Many reasons women stay despite abuse

Lack of safe places to go still number 1 reason: survey

A recent survey by the Canadian Women's Foundation reports not having a safe place to go is the number 1 reason why women stay in abusive relationships.

But New Westminster officer and domestic violence unit detective, Shari Gulliver, says that's only part of the issue.

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"I think that it's reasonably accurate, but I think it's a small part of a much larger picture," she says. "There are a lot of reasons (why) women stay in abusive relationships." The survey indicates that along with no safe place to go, women also stay with abusive partners because of children that

may be involved or economic dependency. "(These) are definitely some reasons why, but (the survey) didn't touch on some of the cultural issues, the fear of police, fear of reporting," she says.

In Gulliver's experience, many women are afraid to speak with police about abuse or report it because they don't know what options or resources are available to them, if they choose to leave the abuser.

But Gulliver says that the New Westminster Police Department's partnership with Family Services of Greater Vancouver helps bridge the gap between police and abused women.

"That's what makes this specialized program work so well. The counsellor is able to do all this outreach work with the victim and take their time with them, build a relationship of trust," she said.

There are two counsellors working with Gulliver - Andrea Wright and Reena Singh - and together they make up the domestic violence response team and elder abuse unit. When a relationship between either Wright or Singh and the victim is established, that's when they provide the victim with the different options available.

"We would assist in locating a transition house for them or a shelter, we would also give them things like contact phone numbers for Victim Link B.C. where they can get information," she says.

Gulliver says the unit's goal is to ensure the women are safe and have a plan in place, in case the situation with their spouses escalates.

"Really it's about empowering the woman, as to what she wants to see happen, all the while, from beginning to end of that relationship, working on safety issues," she says.

According to the Canadian Women's Foundation, 67 per cent of people in the country know a woman who has been physically or sexually abused. To report domestic violence, contact Gulliver, Wright or Singh through the police department's main line at 604-525-5411.

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