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Nipissing group seeks declaration of intimate partner violence as an 'epidemic'


A North Bay-based organization is planning to lobby municipal councils in northern Ontario to declare intimate partner violence as an epidemic.

The Violence Against Women Coordinating Committee of Nipissing said the statistics speak for themselves.

Last year alone, the Victim Services of Nipissing District received 475 calls related to intimate partner violence. The North Bay Police Service responded to approximately 1,200 calls related to domestic violence.

Also last year, more than 900 survivors of gender-based violence received counselling support and services from various organizations in the community.

The Children’s Aid Society Nipissing & Parry Sound said 13 per cent of its total call volume was related to children being exposed to domestic violence.

"A two per cent increase is a lot of women,” said Beverly Bell, executive director of the Mattawa Women's Resource Centre.

“There's a lot of women still being murdered and that's the ultimate act of violence.”

While the data shows the problem is serious, intimate partner violence is underreported.

"Some women don't come forward because the system has failed them in the past," said Justine Mallah, the committee's chairperson.

"They come out and try to get a safe place to live, for instance, and due to limited funding, there's no room at the shelters."

More than one-third of women in Canada will experience violence at the hands of their partner in their lifetime.

The committee will be presenting to East Ferris council Tuesday night and to Mattawa council Thursday.

The committee is hoping local governments will take action and include the issue in their community safety and well-being plans.

"When there's more awareness amongst citizens, then together we'll be able to be better equipped to stop the violence," said Mallah.

By declaring an epidemic, Mallah said municipalities will able to better advocate for underfunded and understaffed organizations that work to support victims.

“Violence against women in many different forms is rampant in our community," said Mallah.

"The second piece is how do we stop the cycle of violence?"

This declaration is in response to a June 2022 Renfrew County inquest into the deaths of three women: Carol Culleton, Anastasia Kuzyk, and Nathalie Warmerdam, who were killed by their former intimate partner in 2015.

The jury made 86 recommendations, the first of which was for the Ontario government to formally declare intimate partner violence an epidemic.

Staff from the Amelia Rising Sexual Violence Support Centre sit on the committee and will be presenting to local councils.

"We believe this is an overdue and necessary step,” said Natalie Austin, the centre's sexual violence prevention education coordinator, in a statement to CTV News.

"Support from local governments is crucial and desperately needed in addressing (intimate partner violence), especially with the province recently declining to declare it an epidemic."

More than 35 municipalities across the province have declared the issue an epidemic, including the Town of Mattawa

For more information on the Violence Against Women Coordinating Committee of Nipissing, visit their Facebook page. Top Stories

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