RCMP officers’ comments disappointing to Autumn House executive director

Darrell Cole
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Cove said police usually supportive toward victims of domestic violence

Terry Cove said she was shocked and disappointed at comments made by RCMP officers in Oxford that were picked up on a woman's voicemail.

Terry Cove, shown speaking during recent International Women's Day events, says she was shocked and disappointed at comments made by RCMP officers in Oxford that were picked up on a woman's voicemail.

AMHERST – The executive director of Cumberland County’s centre for abused women says she’s disappointed with comments made by RCMP officers in Oxford and is sorry the woman had to endure the degradation.

“Family violence is a very serious issue and must not be taken lightly by those who are tasked with keeping our communities safe,” Terry Cove said Wednesday. “With the rising number of women losing their life at the hands of their partners, we must strive to make ourselves aware of the dangers and the resources available to those who are in need. They are our neighbours, friends, and families.  Cumberland County has a very high rate if family violence and we have a long way to go in our work to end family violence.”

Cove’s comments come a day after CBC reported the story of a Parrsboro woman, who received a voice mail from an RCMP officer investigating an alleged assault by her boyfriend.

The voicemail occurred when the officer pocket dialed her phone number. When she didn’t answer, the call went to voicemail and the comments of the two officers were left on the recording.

The officers were talking about the woman’s claim that she crashed her car while driving to Springhill to retrieve her cellphone. She claimed to have swerved to miss a deer.

When she got to Springhill, she alleges she was assaulted while being forced from the residence.

One of the officers asks on the voicemail if the injuries came from the assault or the crash.

Chief Superintendent Brian Brennan said Tuesday that the incident is being investigated internally to determine if disciplinary actions is required or if the officers will be sent for sensitivity training.

He also said the woman’s partner will be in court in Amherst next week to face an assault charge.

Cove said she was shocked by the comments, saying police officers are expected to deal with reports of crime with an unbiased, professional approach.

“The comments on the phone recording should never have been made,” Cove said. “They indicate a lack of empathy and understanding, not to mention an air of disrespect for this victim by those who were recorded.”

Cove said the officers used the woman’s lack of emotion while telling her story as an indicator of the level of truth. 

“Women who have been abused often tell their stories with a lack of emotion. For some this is a tool used to cope with their experience.  For others it is an indicator that they have normalized the abuse. Also, there was a comment about whether or not ‘she deserved to be hit.’ Assault against anyone is a crime and violent behaviour should never be excused, especially by the police. No one deserves to be hit.”

Cove said this is not the first complaint Autumn House staff have heard about regarding the police response to claims of domestic violence, Cove said municipal police and RCMP are very professional and supportive of victims.

“My concern would be that women who need help would avoid calling police because they fear they will not be supported,” Cove said. “I trust that this incident will be investigated and the proper steps will be taken to make sure that it does not happen again.”

Cove said for anyone who has been assaulted by their partner, Autumn House offers support and information through in-person and phone appointments.  The centre has a 24-hour crisis line (667-1200) and an email account (info@autumnhouse.ca) that people can contact anonymously if they wish. 

Transition house staff can accompany women when they report assaults to the police and throughout the court process.

Cove stressed that women should not hesitate to call 911 whenever they are in immediate danger.


Twitter: @ADNdarrell

Organizations: RCMP, Autumn House, CBC

Geographic location: AMHERST, Cumberland County, Oxford Springhill Parrsboro

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Recent comments

  • Leah
    May 23, 2014 - 19:58

    I understand what she is dealing with because I did not call the RCMP when a man came to my door and threatened my child and a robber broke into my home. I brought a complaint against RCMP that they did not investigate the allegations and covered it all up. First they wanted the info and because they took me and made no kind of report intentionally and had no incident report made because they were told not to make one..My mother describes the condition I was in as barely alive.

  • Jaydude
    April 03, 2014 - 13:00

    Jack, why would Mrs Cove be contacted to speak to the paper about an assault on a man? She helps women deal with violence...

    • Jack on the Rocks
      April 03, 2014 - 21:50

      Jaydude...my sentiments exactly....

  • Jack on the Rocks
    April 03, 2014 - 05:17

    Oh boy,that touched a nerve..,Susan,we all know the numbers are the way you speak..All I did was ask a question.....I should have expected a one sided response...and please..don't you for one second ever think,that men don't get assaulted by women.....they do...

  • Jim G
    April 03, 2014 - 01:20

    Police officers have to ask all the questions in order to factualize the event. Assumptions do not count. I cannot figure out from this article was went wrong here. I guess we have to take their word for it. Is it true more women than ever are being murdered by their partners? Sure sounds bad. I like to see the statistics on this myself to get a better idea how bad this is. I wonder if the Amherst News could insert brief statistic tables that can make the story even more believable?

  • Susan99
    April 02, 2014 - 22:05

    Why is it men has to turn things around and say" oh well if it was a man that was assaulted " seriously.... Females are assaulted more by their partners....females are murdered more by their partners. I don't think it is a prize, to be put in the paper for being assaulted . So god forbid you get or got assaulted by your partner, and you wanna be treated equal..... I hope your name gets plastered in the papers, I hope the cops degrade you, just like you want, now that's being treated equal.

  • Jack on the Rocks
    April 02, 2014 - 17:34

    Believe me..I am in no way condoning violence against women..but I do wonder if there would be any story in the paper stating concerns from Mrs Cove it the story was the other way around,and the man was assaulted????I also wonder..Mrs.Cove stated that Autumn House is open to "anyone"who has been assaulted by their partner..Does Autumn House allow men who have been assaulted???

    • noodle
      April 03, 2014 - 10:02

      Statistically women tend to be assaulted more than men, but I do question the accuracy of those numbers given that statistically men are far less likely to report an assault. However, having said this, there are several points of this story that stand out to me but which have gotten lost in the public outrage over the RCMP's comment. The woman's story indicates: 1) The two were at a party at her house. 2) They got into a fight and he left (albeit with her phone). 3) Rather than calling the police and reporting the theft, by her own admission she opted to jump into her car at 11 at night and chase after the boyfriend to confront him. 4) On the way she got into an accident and drove off the road - whether this was really because of a deer or booze or an enraged person driving too fast is hard to say. 5) She went into the boyfriend's house and was ejected - she says he assaulted her, but given her admission that he phoned the police first it smacks of an enraged individual forcing their way into their partner's house then being forced back out after refusing to leave on their own. Do I believe the RCMP should've made or even thought the statement they did - absolutely and emphatically not! However, this woman's story regarding the actual incident with her boyfriend sounds completely self-serving and a little contrived. By all means be shocked and angry at the RCMP's misogynistic statement but let's not automatically assume the woman in question was also the victim of an abusive boyfriend because her own behaviour in pursuing and confronting her boyfriend at his home indicates otherwise.