Domestic violence on the rise in Vancouver, advocates say

33 years after the École Polytechnique massacre in Montreal, advocates in Vancouver say domestic and gendered violence is still on the rise. Sarah Chew speaks with those trying to help people leave dangerous situations.

By Sarah Chew

Editor’s Note: This story discusses domestic violence, discretion is advised

Tuesday will mark the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women, and Vancouver advocates say rates of domestic violence in the city are still on the rise.

Dec. 6 is annually marked as a day to remember those who have experienced gender-based violence, also marking the anniversary of the École Polytechnique massacre in Montreal, when a gunman murdered 14 women in 1989.

According to the Canadian Femicide Observatory for Justice and Accountability, an average of one woman or girl is killed every other day in Canada, and about once a week a woman is killed by her male partner.

Read More: B.C. to get $3 million for gender based violence crisis hotlines

Executive Director of Battered Women’s Support Services, Angela Marie MacDougall, says those figures have been on the rise over the past couple of years.

“This is unfortunately an increased number that we’ve seen progressively since 2020,” she told CityNews. “That gives us an indication that gender-based violence, violence against women, intimate partner violence continues to be lethal and that we haven’t done enough clearly to address the roots.”

“We all have somebody who’s fighting and struggling with domestic intimate partner or sexualized violence,” MacDougall continued.

“Whether it’s ourselves or our mother or our grandmother or our cousin or sister or our neighbour, we all have somebody who’s fighting and struggling with domestic intimate partner or sexualized violence.”

Housing costs can make it harder for survivors

Vice President of Housing & Violence Prevention for YWCA Metro Vancouver, Lisa Rupert, says the high cost of housing in Vancouver prevents some people from leaving bad situations.

“There is nowhere for women to go. When they leave an abusive partner, they go to a transition house. But a lot of those are backed up,” she said. “They are letting people stay longer because there’s nowhere for them to move from there.”

The YWCA has a donation-based Emergency Survivor Support Fund which it has used to help 75 survivors in Vancouver this year. The organization hopes the government will take more action to make sure more survivors get into homes in 2023.

“You often hear people say, ‘well, women go back time after time because they love him.’ We have created a situation where women are going back time after time because they can’t afford not to be with a partner,” Rupert noted.

MacDougall says it’s discouraging to see gendered violence continue 33 years after the Polytechnique shooting noting a man in Winnipeg this week who was charged with killing four women.

“So what we need right now is national solidarity with the community in Winnipeg. And everybody really should support their local community-based victim services, transitional and women’s organizations through donations, through volunteering, through providing support,” she said.

If you or someone you know needs help, call 911 or VictimLinkBC at 1-800-563-0808.

Top Stories

Top Stories

Most Watched Today