North

New map shows clear picture of domestic violence in N.W.T.

A new map is providing a clear picture of domestic violence in the Northwest Territories, and in many cases it’s clear there are no places for women to go.

'What we found is that almost every community experiences violence,' says researcher

'We tend to think [violence is] isolated to particular communities,' said Pertice Moffitt, the project's lead academic. 'What we found is that almost every community experiences violence.' (CBC)

A new map is providing a clear picture of domestic violence in the Northwest Territories, and in many cases it's clear there are no places for women to go.

The map is part of a five year project that started in 2011. It plots where incidents of violence against women happened most over a two-year period, and what services are available in that community.

"I knew the rates were high," says Pertice Moffitt, the lead academic on the project, but she says the map gave her a complete picture.

"We tend to think [violence is] isolated to particular communities. What we found is that almost every community experiences violence," Moffitt says.

Several smaller communities in the Sahtu and Beaufort Delta had as many as 100 reports of domestic violence over two years. Eleven communities don't have RCMP detachments; nearly 80 per cent don't have victim service workers on the ground; and only five have women's shelters.

Even larger centres that do have RCMP detachments, shelters and victim services, such as Inuvik and Behchoko, still saw some of the highest incidents of domestic violence.

"Right now we are overseeing close to 20,000 population, and its just two staff," says Hawa Dumbuya, a victim services coordinator based in Yellowknife who also services Dettah, N'dilo and Lutsel K'e by phone.

She says they get about 50 calls a month, most of which are domestic violence or sexual assaults.

Dumbuya says she would like to see more victim service workers who can help "people when they are in crisis, not long after the fact."

Numbers aren't enough

In 2013, Nunavut and the Northwest Territories had the highest rates of police-reported family violence, according to Statistics Canada.

Lorraine Phaneuf, the executive director of the NWT Status of Women, says it's not enough to just know the numbers.

"We need evidence so when we go to the politicians or the policymakers, we need a way of proving, a way for them to visualize the issues in the territories."

Phauneuf says the map shows gaps in services and "where things are working and where things are not working."

The map will help Phaneuf and the research team lobby for more shelters and supports for women in the communities that need them the most.

This map, called 'Rural and Northern Community Response to Intimate Partner Violence', depicts incidents of domestic violence in the territory and the resources available. A star represents an RCMP presence, a square represents a shelter, and a yellow cross represents victim services. (IPV Project Team)

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