Agassiz Harrison Community Services executive director Bobbi Jacob says more services for victims of domestic abuse are needed in Agassiz. Nina Grossman/The Observer

Stats show rise in domestic abuse incidents in Agassiz, Harrison area

More resources needed for victims, says AHCS executive director Bobbi Jacob

Domestic abuse statistics from Agassiz RCMP show a rise in complaints and charges across Agassiz, Harrison, Popkum and local First Nations reserves over the last three years.

The number of domestic abuse complaints rose 24 per cent between 2014 and 2016 and the number of domestic abuse charges rose 56 per cent over the same time period.

The numbers might seem inconsequential; 134 reports of domestic violence in a population of 6,000 people is roughly 2.2 per cent. But the Canadian Women’s Foundation estimates that 70 per cent of spousal violence isn’t reported to police.

While local RCMP did not release the gender of victims, domestic abuse is an overwhelmingly gendered crime, with women and girls composing seven in ten people who experience family violence.

Despite the numbers, domestic abuse-specific resources are limited in the District of Kent. Agassiz Harrison Community Services (AHCS) executive director Bobbi Jacob says that needs to change.

“Chilliwack and Hope have provincially funded counselling programs [and] Agassiz does not have counselling specifically for families dealing with domestic abuse.

“It’s important that [domestic abuse] counselling is close to people who need it,” she says, adding victims who have to travel to seek help are put at increased risk. “How are you going to do that and explain to the abusive person where you were?

“I would like to have an emergency shelter here,” she says. “I think there’s a need for that.”

AHCS does have a family therapist and counsellor, and both are available to support domestic abuse victims.

“We do the best we can under existing programs to see those people,” Jacob says. “Other programs have specific counselling services. It would be nice if that were the case here.”

READ: Purple porches help start conversations about domestic violence

Victim Services manager for the Upper Fraser Valley Regional Detachment (FVRD) Marianne Brueckert says domestic abuse doesn’t always manifest in the form of physical violence, and misconceptions or stereotypes around how a victim should look or act make it even harder for people to access support.

“[Domestic abuse] can be a form of control…where there’s maybe not evidence of physical injury, but there’s emotional injury,” she says. “It can start very subtly and increase over the course of time.

“I think there’s a general, all-around wilting of the individual, where you pull the supports and the strength they have to the point where they feel like they don’t have anybody.”

There are a number of barriers victims face when they try to access support, Brueckert adds. One of the biggest barriers is money.

“Not only do they not have money to get a lawyer or get legal advice, they don’t have money to leave,” she says. “They don’t have money to support their children. They don’t have money to buy food. They can’t find accommodation.”

A lack of affordable housing is another issue. While temporary and transition houses can provide an immediate solution, they are ultimately just that – temporary.

“It’s a great option when you need to flee, but for a long-term solution, for a lot of people, that’s not where they want to be,” Brueckert says. “That’s not an ideal place. It’s a temporary, short-term solution.”

READ: Staff Sergeant awarded for efforts in domestic violence

In the Fraser Valley Regional District’s projected housing report, it’s estimated that only one new affordable rental unit is developed per year in the District of Kent, and only three in Chilliwack.

The Canadian Women’s Foundation reports that one in five single mothers in Canada live on low income, and women who leave a partner to raise children on their own are five times more likely to be poor than if they had stayed.

For anyone with concerns that a friend, coworker or family member is living in an abusive situation, Brueckert says the most important thing to do is simply be there for them as a non-judgmental friend and support system.

“You let them know that you’re there, you’re supportive, you’ll listen to them and you’ll help them get connected,” she says, adding that in situations of immediate danger, people should not be afraid to call for help.

“Often times people will be afraid of doing or saying anything. If you see someone being injured, you call the police.”

[gps-image name=”9080477_web1_DVSTATS.jpg”]

Hope

Ann Davis Transition Society: Stopping the Violence Counselling Program (604) 869-3201

Hope and Area Transition Society: (604) 869-5191

Chilliwack

Ann Davis Transition Society : Stopping the Violence Counselling Program Chilliwack (604) 792-2760

Chilliwack Community Services: Specialized Victim Services (604) 792-4267

 

Statistics from Agassiz RCMP show a slight rise in the number of reported domestic abuse incidents and charges over a three-year span however the Canadian Women’s Foundation reports that 70 per cent of spousal violence is not reported to police. Nina Grossman

Just Posted

Kent honours late CAO with tree planting

Tony Lewis passed away in 2007, seven months before his retirement from the position

School trip tragedy leaves Hope mourning the loss of one of their own

Long-time resident, Sandra Loring, passed away while chaperoning a European school trip

Fraser Health reminds parents to get their kids fully vaccinated against measles

Health authority will send letters home to parents with catch-up program information

Chilliwack fatal hit-and-run case goes to B.C. Supreme Court

Linnea Labbee, 70, accused in Dec. 1, 2016 incident that killed 78-year-old Fourghozaman Firoozian

Gas prices in Metro Vancouver hit $1.72 a litre

And one analyst expects it to only go higher this week

VIDEO: Agassiz, Harrison celebrate National Pet Day

From cats and dogs to lizards and chickens, residents showed off the animals that enrich their lives

B.C.’s largest Vaisakhi festival target of threatening Facebook post: Surrey RCMP

Police say they are investigating the posts on Facebook, after local MLA forwarded screenshots

Pug life: B.C. town boasts waggish list of dog names

Freedom-of-information request lists most ‘pupular’ dog names registered in White Rock

VIDEO: Fish farming company launches $30-million vessel to treat salmon for sea lice in B.C. waters

Freshwater treatment an improvement but fish farms should be removed from sea, says conservationist

Singh says childhood abuse steeled him for scrutiny and stress of politics

He recounts the assaults for the first time in his book Love & Courage

Despite five extra weeks’ parental leave in Canada, dads still face stigma: survey

One reason people said dads don’t need leave is because they can just bond with their kids at weekend

Spectre of Lac-Megantic raised as White Rock council calls for report on rail emergency protocol

‘I just really think we’re asleep at the switch here,’ says councillor

Vintage bottles, magic cards, a 1969 Playboy: Quirky items found in historic B.C. buildings

Crews set aside some of the funkier pieces emerging from the construction rubble

PHOTOS: Inside the ‘shoe house’ in Northern B.C.

A rare look inside the famous Kitseguecla Lake Road shoe house, with a tour led by owner Toby Walsh

Most Read