Canada faces a domestic violence crisis. CBC examines the problem
Every year, thousands of Canadians are harassed, assaulted or murdered by their intimate partners
This week we launch an in-depth series about the painful and pressing problem of domestic violence — and how as a society we might be able to change outcomes for victims.
Our motivation comes from stories like that of Sandra and Terry Finn, originally of Pigeon Lake, Ont. During their fifty-year marriage, Terry had become increasingly abusive and erratic according to friends and family. Sandra sought counselling at a local women's shelter. Several times she resolved to leave her husband but always came back, praying the abuse would end.
On Aug. 22, 2018, Sandra was sitting in her car at a Home Depot parking lot when her husband calmly approached, aimed a .38-calibre Colt revolver at her head and pulled the trigger - then stood nearby and smoked a cigarette. She died later that day. In January, Terry Finn was convicted of first-degree murder and is now serving a life sentence.
Every story of intimate partner violence and murder is different, but there are many commonalities. Consider that six in ten spousal homicides in Canada are preceded by a history of family violence, according to Statistics Canada. That means there were possible moments of intervention where victims, overwhelmingly women, could have been helped, perhaps saved.
That's why the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the U.S. deems intimate partner violence to be preventable. That idea has increasing traction here in Canada as well. It's obvious urgent action is needed: there are 100,000 victims of domestic violence each year, and about 90 people die annually at the hands of their abuser.
So, what steps would change the national conversation to one about preventing harm rather than regretting failure to protect?
- To read all the stories in CBC's Stopping Domestic Violence series, visit cbc.ca/stoppingdomesticviolence.
Over the next week, we're looking to answer that on CBC/Radio-Canada.
Together, the English and French networks undertook ground-breaking research and assigned teams in 20 cities across Canada. You will see and hear reports from local journalists on your local programs, as well as on The National, The Current and Front Burner. Radio-Canada's in-depth coverage begins with a two-hour network special Thursday night.
Our project explores the laws that apply to domestic violence, the police who enforce them, the shelters that try to accommodate those fleeing abuse. And we look at programs that are making a difference in the U.S., U.K. and here in Canada. Throughout, our approach is to examine ideas that can change thinking around domestic abuse.
Many of these stories are difficult to read. Some may have an unsettling effect on individuals who have experienced personal trauma. If so, we encourage you to connect with agencies in your area who are ready to help.
If you need help and are in immediate danger, call 911. To find assistance in your area click here.