Recognizing the signs of domestic violence

Darrell Cole
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New program aims to help ease the pain

Neighbours, families and friends have an important role stopping domestic violence, but they don't know what they can do. A new program aims to give them the tools to make a difference.

Amherst Rotary Club president and retired RCMP officer Paul Calder looks over the details of the Neighbours, Friends and Families program with Ruth Currie (centre) and Christina Cameron from Autumn House. The program encourages people to recognize the signs of domestic violence and speak up to prevent its recurrence.

AMHERST – All too often family and friends recognize the signs of abuse, but fail to take the next step.

The new program helps better prepare the friends and families of victims of domestic violence to provide support.

“Neighbours, Friends and Families is a public education awareness program to help people spot signs of domestic violence and teach them to approach possible victims without making the situation worse,” Autumn House New Directions Program counsellor Ruth Currie told members of the Amherst Rotary Club on Monday.

Through the program, people from women’s shelters, law enforcement agencies, intervention programs and other organizations have been given the training to educate community members about effectively supporting victims of violence.

These people can reach out to people in their workplace and in the community with presentations.

Currie said people can call her at 667-4500 or Lydia Quinn, the RCMP’s domestic violence co-ordinator, at 667-3859 to schedule a one-hour training session.

“The message we really want to get out is to make sure people are aware this program exists and there are people who are trained to go out and do this presentation to create awareness,” Currie said. “This presentation gives everyday people the tools to recognize the signs and take away that hesitancy to get involved. Even well-intentioned people may know something but not know how to get involved by approaching with support or the perpetrator to say there’s help out there.”

Those affected by domestic violence can also call the province’s first domestic toll-free line at 1-855-225-0220. Transition house staff and volunteers from throughout the province will monitor the line 24 hours a day and provide advice on how to help the abused, the abuser, and spot warning signs of abuse.

Currie said those in abusive situations often feel isolated. She said many people will see the warning signs but opt not to get involved because they feel it will hurt the victim. In fact, she said, the cost of doing nothing is continued abuse for the victim and she said everyone has a responsibility to do something when they spot the warning signs or see an abusive situation.

One of the goals is to make domestic abuse as socially unacceptable as drinking and driving.

Christina Cameron, a children’s and youth counsellor with Autumn House, said it’s now normal place for someone to speak up when they see another person who has had too much to drink and may get behind the wheel of a car. She hopes that same willingness to intervene will occur when someone sees the signs of domestic violence.

The Neighbours, Friends and Families Program offers tips on how to identify and help women at risk of abuse, how to talk to men who are abusive and safety planning for abused women including planning to leave the abuser, leaving an abusive situation and what to do after you have left.

Twitter: @ADNdarrell


Organizations: Amherst Rotary Club, RCMP, Autumn House

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