BE ALERT TO SIGNS OF ABUSE

Regina Leader-Post - - OPINION -

The peo­ple of Saskatchewan take great pride in their kind­ness and com­mu­nity spirit.

We stop to help some­one whose car is bro­ken down along the side of the road. We take din­ner to a neigh­bour who just had a new baby. We raise money for a per­son who has can­cer.

But some­where along the line, our so­ci­ety missed prop­erly learn­ing how to rec­og­nize and of­fer help to some of the most vul­ner­a­ble peo­ple: those suf­fer­ing from do­mes­tic abuse and vi­o­lence.

Con­sider these statis­tics, laid out in the Saskatchewan Do­mes­tic Vi­o­lence Death Re­view In­terim Re­port re­leased in May of this year. Saskatchewan has the high­est in­ti­mate part­ner homi­cide rate and sex­ual and phys­i­cal vi­o­lence rate against chil­dren (1.7 and 2.3 times the na­tional rate re­spec­tively). Six of the 10 com­mu­ni­ties in Canada with the high­est rates of vi­o­lence against Indige­nous women and girls are in north­ern Saskatchewan.

Putting names and faces to num­bers can be heart-wrench­ing. Last week, the tragic story of Lisa Strang was told in a Regina court­room. For rea­sons even her hus­band can’t ex­plain, he shot her in the head and back as she paid the cou­ple’s monthly bills. But the court also heard the story of a woman who had grad­u­ally been lost to her fam­ily by a con­trol­ling spouse.

“To our great dis­ap­point­ment, (Strang) came be­tween us,” the fam­ily wrote in a state­ment. They said Lisa could go nowhere un­less John was present. “This re­sulted in her grow­ing apart from all her fam­ily and friends and later in a grow­ing de­pres­sion … In many ways, we lost her years be­fore John took her from us.”

There are more names we came to know too late: Latasha Gosling, Shirley Parkin­son, San­deep Kaur Te­hara, Ab­bie Speir, Stacey Knut­son, Heather Bal­lan­tyne. These are just some of the women who are be­lieved to have been lost at the hands of a part­ner or fam­ily mem­ber.

Those left be­hind are tor­tured by ques­tions about what they could have done to stop the abuse and pre­vent their deaths. In mem­ory of those who have died, the peo­ple of Saskatchewan need to ask un­com­fort­able ques­tions.

Ex­press con­cern. Of­fer spe­cific help. You can’t res­cue some­one, but you can of­fer a life­line. Be hon­est with the per­son you think is be­ing abused, and trust your sus­pi­cions and in­tu­ition.

For some time, On­tario has been re­view­ing deaths where do­mes­tic vi­o­lence is in­volved. In the com­ing months, Saskatchewan will be­gin to fol­low suit. This is an im­por­tant step to un­der­stand­ing why our prov­ince has this prob­lem.

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