Violence against women remembered this time of year

July 8, 2009

A 41 year-old Cobourg man allegedly punched his partner several times in the face inside their Havelock Street residence in Cobourg last Friday. The woman intervened in an argument between the man and his son. She was pushed into some furniture, at first. Then, the couple went downstairs, where he is alleged to have punched her in the face several times and then pushed her to the floor.

She suffered a swollen upper lip and a bloody nose.

Only a few weeks earlier in June, a 22 year-old man allegedly punched his common-law partner in the head several times; head butted her forehead and spit in her face. All this while she was holding on to her baby.

The Northumberland OPP laid approximately 376 charges involving domestic violence, including verbal and physical abuse this past year. Cobourg’s most recent statistics from 2006 show officers attended 67 domestic disturbances. Port Hope statistics are not readily available.

These numbers represent only a fraction of what goes on in homes across Northumberland County. Only the most violent or the most horrific get the attention of police. There are the countless cases of minor assaults that go unreported.

Then, there is the physical intimidation and threats, where men bully women into submission, making them feel afraid, worthless and small. Or, there is the emotional and psychological abuse, which goes unchecked.

Northumberland OPP Staff Sergeant Phil Pike said at a recent workshop in the spring domestic violence rises and falls with the seasons. Summer is often a time when people tend to drink more, so the number of cases goes up.

With the good weather, it is easy to turn our thoughts to summer vacation. It is the smell of a great BBQ or sitting on the dock at a lake or camping in the wilderness or just having a good time in the backyard that garners our attention.

Yet, domestic violence never stops. In fact, it gets worse.

So, it would seem this might be a good time of year to remind residents in Northumberland County about the horrors that take place while we are distracted. Canadians already recognize the horrors of violence against women on Dec. 6 during The National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women. There is also the Take Back the Night events usually held in September, which is also a national event.

However, there is an opportunity to start something on a local level that raises awareness and engages people in an open and frank dialogue surrounding violence against women.

The new memorial to victims of domestic violence in Victoria Park is a worthy symbol and a constant reminder of the pervasive nature of these crimes. It is a natural icon for this issue and a moving tribute to those who are lost and those who have survive or are in transition. It could be a wonderful symbol and a meeting place to publicly mark the launch these discussions.

Politicians, police, institutions and, most importantly, the local women themselves can be involved.

It may appear to be a bad time of year as people’s attention turns to more frivolous activities. But, the perpetrators of these crimes don’t take a holiday. Just ask the women who are abused.