Dr. Balbir Gurm

Kwantlen instructor highlights dangers of domestic abuse

Majority of violence in relationships is still unreported, Dr. Balbir Gurm says.

If you’re being hurt by someone you love at home, will you tell someone?

The number of people who report domestic violence could be as low as seven per cent, according to Kwantlen Polytechnic University (KPU) nursing instructor Dr. Balbir Gurm.

Gurm, along with the BC Coroners Service Death Review Panel, released a report last week looking into 100 intimate partner-involved deaths in the province between 2010 and 2015.

The panel, comprised of representatives from health, education, policing, justice, corrections, public safety and advocacy groups, found that 13,000 people seek help to stop domestic abuse each year in B.C.; 18,000 women and children access transition and safe houses to escape violence; and 232 women are admitted to hospital for severe injuries.

With most victims being female (78 per cent) between the ages of 20 and 59, almost two-thirds of cases had a previous history of violence, although fewer that one-third had reported that violence to police.

Eighty per cent of victims were killed in their own homes.

“One of the elements of intimate partner violence that was revealed in our research is that very few victims of intimate partner violence disclose it, and those who do, are met with family, friends, and even field professionals who don’t understand the risks associated with (that type of) violence, or don’t know what to say and do to help the victim,” said Gurm.

Included in the report were numerous recommendations, including increased education and awareness to help victims understand how to respond to domestic abuse, as well as better safety planning, collaborative case management and enhancing data access and quality.

Earlier this year, Gurm’s KPU nursing students developed a Community Champion toolkit to help citizens recognize signs of abuse so victims can get the assistance they need. The kits aim to teach community members how to intervene safely and support victims.

Finding the strength to break free of an abusive relationship can take time, often three or four years, even with the appropriate support and the toolkits are an important component, said Gurm.

The kits can be accessed online at www.kpu.ca/NEVR

The World Health Organization recognizes that violence in intimate relationships is an epidemic, however Gurm feels collaboration between all level of government and support is imperative.

“In the long term, prevention is the key to eliminating violence in relationships,” she said.

For the complete BC Coroners Service Death Review Panel report, go to http://bit.ly/2h23keh

 

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