B.C. domestic violence deaths rising: advocacy group

Domestic violence in British Columbia has reached alarming rates, with four attempted murders and 14 known deaths—including one child—so far across the province this year.

Government called on to put more resources into support and prevention

Domestic violence deaths are considered among the more preventable of homicides but their numbers continue to rise in B.C. (CBC)

Domestic violence in British Columbia has reached alarming rates, with four attempted  murders and 14 known deaths — including one child — so far across the province this year.

The domestic violence incidents, collated from information in the public domain by the Ending Violence Association of B.C., include murders, attempted murders and suicides resulting from violent domestic situations.

The association says the number of deaths is the highest in B.C. since 2007, a year marked by the grisly murders of Sunny Park, her six-year-old son and Park's parents at the hands of her husband Peter Lee in Oak Bay, Victoria. Lee then killed himself. 

Robin Russell says she escaped an abusive husband with help from the community and the police. (CBC)

"[Those] deaths were so violent," said Tracey Porteous, executive director of Ending Violence, Wednesday. "Sunny reached out for help many times ... put her life in our collective hands ... only to be failed in the most egregious way."

Seven years later, the anniversary of the shocking incident was marked by calls for the government to do more to help end domestic violence in B.C.

Domestic violence survivor Robin Russell said community assistance was key in helping her leave an abusive husband.

"With the help of the RCMP, I got support critical to my future" she said."Support advocates were everything to me."

Predictable homicides

"Domestic violence is considered the most predictable of all homicides," Porteous said. "Once a woman comes forward, and safety planning has been conducted, there really should be no excuse for the system to fail any woman."

The shocking 2007 murders in Oak Bay, Victoria, shone the spotlight on domestic violence in B.C.

Last month in Surrey, 67-year-old Narinder Kaur Kalsi was allegedly beaten to death. Her husband has been charged with second degree murder.

In April, Angila Wilson — a mother of 3 — was killed in her Clearwater home. Her former common law spouse faces first degree murder charges.

Ending Violence is calling on the provincial government to increase the number of community-based victim services programs, and provide early intervention treatment for abusive men.

In a news release, the B.C. government said it has committed  a long-term comprehensive strategy on Domestic Violence.

The province says it already spends more than $70 million a year on domestic violence prevention and intervention programs, and has also launched a three-year, $5.5 million Provincial Domestic Plan.

On mobile? Click here to read details of the 18 domestic violence deaths in B.C. so far this year 

With files from Bal Brach

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