Kwantlen hosts anti-violence conference
Kwantlen Polytechnic University (KPU) and Surrey Women’s Centre, founding members of the Network to Eliminate Violence in Relationships (NEVR), hosted a training conference on Feb. 28 titled, When Love Hurts: The Deadly Link Between Sexual Violence and Domestic Homicide.
When Love Hurts focused on the importance of training front-line personnel at all key intervention points to screen for gender-based violence and was made possible thanks to funding from the Ministry of Justice.
“All women experiencing domestic violence are at risk”, said Sonya Boyce, executive director at Surrey Women’s Centre. “But women also being sexually assaulted by their partners are at increased risk of losing their lives and the least likely to come forward. We know one in four women experience violence in her lifetime. That means 25 per cent of the women you met this week may be at risk of losing their lives. We can reduce this risk through routine screening for violence in all settings where women come in touch with caring professionals.”
Dr. Shelley Ross, president of the British Columbia Medical Association, opened the conference, followed by a keynote address from Dr. Elaine Alpert, director of Interpersonal Violence program at UBC. Wendy van Tongeren, BC Crown Counsel, highlighted the legislation around sexual consent and explained what counts as evidence and the importance of documentation. Lynn Gifford, a registered nurse and clinical coordinator, and Corrine Arthur from the Surrey Mobile Assault Response Team (SMART), facilitated an interactive workshop. Professor Patti Janzen, School of Population and Public Health, UBC, focused on creating a trusting environment to conduct an interview to assess violence in relationships.
“Systematic reviews are consistently reporting that screening and intervention are associated with improved mental and physical health outcomes and reduced violence,” said Dr. Balbir Gurm, nursing faculty at KPU. “This is why NEVR brought together experts to provide the evidence in order to stress that each hospital needs to have a screening program and all front-line staff need to know how to screen and respond.”
The conference, held at KPU’s Surrey campus, brought together representatives from Ministry of Justice-funded programs: Victim Services, Stopping the Violence Counselling, Children Who Witness Abuse Counselling and allied professionals in the health and legal sectors. NEVR will collate the ideas from the conference and create a Violence in Relationship Assessment Tool. The NEVR team will collaborate to work toward an implementation strategy of screening and referral across the system.