Domestic violence awareness vital, group says
Volunteers with a New Brunswick project aimed at creating awareness about family violence want access to more information about domestic violence deaths in the province.
Last week, the RCMP concluded the deaths of a 53-year-old Moncton woman and a 47-year-old Harcourt man were the result of a murder-suicide.
In March, Rowena Sharpe, 38, was murdered by her husband, Kevin Sharpe, 45, who then killed himself.
The public interest group Silent Witness said more data will help them identify patterns leading to the causes of domestic violence.
Deborah Doherty, a member of the Silent Witness committee, and executive director of the province's Public Legal Education and Information Service, said it's not a matter of curiosity but collecting information to help other people avoid similar fates.
She said she will soon be bringing a proposal to the coroner's office to get access to data on domestic violence deaths.
"I don't need to see pictures and read the autopsy reports and whatever," Doherty said.
"There's basic things: What was the cause of death? Which one was the victim and which one was the perpetrator? What was the nature of the relationship?"
Greg Forestell, the province's chief coroner, said providing details on deaths can take anywhere from six months to a year to review, depending on the complexity.
"We're looking at how we can provide access to our information by various researchers or public interest groups without providing or causing pain to families who choose to have those circumstances kept private," Forestell said.
Doherty said she just wants to make sure other families don't find themselves in a similar position.
The New Brunswick Silent Witness project was officially launched in 2002.
According to its website, the Silent Witness Project began as a U.S. initiative to honour women killed by their partners in acts of domestic violence.
In 1990, a group of women artists and writers, upset about the growing number of women in Minnesota being murdered by their partners, felt an urgency to do something to commemorate and honour the lives of 26 women who had died in 1990 as a result of domestic violence.
The website said organizers created 26 free standing, life sized red wooden figures, bearing the names of women who once lived, worked in the community and whose life ended violently at the hands of her partner.
Another figure was added to represent women whose murders went uncounted or unsolved. These wooden figures are called Silent Witnesses.