Community needs to be part of domestic violence solution

Family Resource Association, based in Parksville, provides counselling

While a new report calls on the B.C. government to better fund domestic violence services, local groups want people to know there are services in the Parksville Qualicum Beach area.

“You do not have to go to Nanaimo to receive counselling for abuse, whether physical abuse or sexual assault,” said Deborah Joyce, executive director of the Family Resource Association (FRA), based on Morison Avenue in Parksville and serving the whole region.

She said there doesn’t seem to be much awareness about local services, which she said highlights the need for more community involvement.

“Domestic violence and children witnessing domestic violence is a community issue and the community needs to be a part of the solution,” Joyce said.

She also said there is a wider view of domestic violence today, pointing out that spousal sexual assault only became a crime in Canada in 1983.

The FRA also provides counselling to children who have witnessed domestic violence, which she said is still a much under-recognized issue and is itself a form of abuse.

One of the most important issues is for people simply to be aware of it, she said, explaining that if you know of someone experiencing abuse, it is important to quietly let them know you’re there for them, without putting the suspected abuser on the spot, which could make things worse.

“Get the person alone and just offer to support them, call someone for them, help anyway you can,” she said. “And of course if anyone’s in immediate danger we are all obliged to call the police.”

The Ending Violence Association of B.C. released a report Sept. 3, marking the seventh anniversary of the murder-suicide of five members of the Lee family in Oak Bay, by the estranged husband.

It says 18 people, including a child, have been killed in B.C. so far this year in what it calls an outbreak of domestic violence, the worst year since the Lee family murders.

The report calls for increased spending on existing community-based victim services and new programs, to be made available everywhere in the province.

It also recommends early intervention counselling for abusive men, and an increase in the number of case-assessment teams to help keep women and children safe.

Joyce said the FRA assists around 80-90 adult women a year with some sort of abuse issue, which can include physical, sexual, mental, financial or other forms.

They have several government contracts to counsel women and children in Parksville and Qualicum Beach and while they have long wait lists, they can rush people through for urgent help.

She stresses that they are not a crisis centre, but the second step in the process, for people taking those next steps.

“We know all about PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder), unfortunately because we have soldiers dealing with it, but women and children who suffer abuse suffer the symptoms of PTSD,” which Joyce said include anxiety, depression, concentration, mood issues, headaches and others.

“Those conditions themselves are issues that need to be addressed and can effect every aspect of life.”

The FRA has an “open referral” system in which people can refer themselves.

Anyone experiencing an abuse or any immediate danger should of course call 911, Joyce said, and in less urgent situations they can call the crisis line at 1-888-494-3888

The FRA also offers a wide variety of family services, call their regular number (250-752-6766) or visit their website at http://d69fra.org/ for more information.

Other local services include Parksville Qualicum Haven House, which provides victim services and temporary shelter to women and children who have experienced violence.

For information visit http://havensociety.com or call 250-248-3500, to access the shelter call 1-888-756-0616.

The Society of Organized Services (SOS) is also an easily accessible umbrella service organization that can refer people to the right program or agency. Call 250-248-2093 or visit www.sosd69.com.

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