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York Regional Police launch intimate partner violence campaign

The three-month long campaign is in partnership with York Region Centre for Community Safety and 482 Collective

York Regional Police respond to more than 6,000 calls for intimate partner violence every year, with more than 2,000 of those calls resulting in charges being laid.

To help bring awareness to an issue the Government of Canada has labelled an epidemic, York Regional Police have partnered with York Region Centre for Community Safety and 482 Collective on a new campaign.

Access to Justice: Integrated Services for Survivors of Intimate Partner Violence is a three-month long campaign and includes ads on York Region Transit buses and billboards in Newmarket and Vaughan to raise awareness about the issue and encourage victims and survivors to “recognize, report, and prevent.”

The ads will also include the telephone number for the York Region Centre for Community Safety to help survivors find the support they need and access resources to help like the 482 Collective. The 482 Collective provides essential items such as food and personal hygiene products to survivors and offers wrap-around services and skills as survivors move forward.

Last year, the York Region Centre for Community Safety served more than 500 adults and more than 700 of their children who are going through intimate partner violence.

“We can no longer distance ourselves from this reality,” said Jaspreet Gill, executive director of York Regional Centre for Community Safety. “Survivors need to know there are resources available to them.”

Not only is the campaign’s goal to help support victims by alerting them to resources, but it’s to educate the public about intimate partner violence.

“Intimate partner violence affects every community across every culture and societal boundary,” said Deputy Chief Alvaro Almeida. 

More than 60 per cent of Canadians know a woman or girl who has experienced physical, sexual or emotional abuse by their partner, said Almeida, and one in four women experience intimate partner violence before they turn 50. 

Almeida said the police know intimate partner violence is chronically underreported and they’ve embedded an officer as York Region Centre for Community Safety so that survivors don’t have to go to the station to report an incident.

He said this is to help ensure the interaction between officers is as positive and supportive as it can be and to avoid retraumatizing victims.

The partnership between the police and York Regional Centre for Community Safety and 482 Collective is meant to increase the number of survivors reporting incidents and accessing the support available.

Gill said a collaborated response is needed to address intimate partner violence because the implications of it extend beyond a survivor and children witnesses.

“It’s very much a community issue,” she said. “There’s a correlation between perpetrators of (intimate partner violence) and mass shootings.”

The shooting in Sault Ste. Marie in October and the Nova Scotia mass shooting in 2020 highlight this connection, Gill said.

“It’s not just women who are at risk, but children and the larger community,” she said. “All of us need to come together as a community to address (intimate partner violence).”

Almeida said that there’s an understanding of how difficult it can be for a victim to come forward and report an incident to police. He said that’s why this partnership can help with the stigma because it makes survivors aware of what’s available to them whether they report an incident to police or not.

The billboards for the campaign are located at Yonge Street and Davis Drive in Newmarket and Marble Road and Highway 7 in Vaughan. Police said after the campaign ends, they’ll work with York Regional Centre for Community Safety to evaluate its success and this is one of the first endeavours of its awareness campaign around intimate partner violence.

“I’ve been a police officer for well over three decades and the number of times we’ve had to respond to incidents of intimate partner violence is troubling,” said Almeida. “It continues to occur in our community despite our best efforts. This is a 365 issue.”

Gill said while this campaign is a great start, more funding is needed for organizations who support survivors of intimate partner violence and this will take more than York Regional Police stepping up. 

“It’s not enough, nothing is going to be enough until all of us from every single sector get involved to address this,” she said. “This is a community issue. It cannot be just an agency or law enforcement issue. We all have a role to play. This is a start.”

The York Regional Centre for Community Safety number is 1-855-541-2220 and has support available seven days per week. Learn more about York Regional Centre for Community Safety here and 482 Collective here.