Your signature can make a difference

This week is BC’s “Violence Against Women Prevention Week”. Our province has spoken strongly to this important issue for years.

To the Editor:

Dear valley neighbors,

Please consider adding your name to a petition.  You can link to it at www.WeCanBC.ca .

But do it now.  The petition will be forwarded to key persons this week – Friday April 19.

This week is BC’s “Violence Against Women Prevention Week”.  Our province has spoken strongly to this important issue for years. That’s commendable. Yet, as reported by the action group We Can BC, the 2013 Provincial budget includes zero increases to insure victims of domestic and sexual violence have access to life saving support services, no funds for safe housing, no support for programs that help abusers change their behavior, and nothing for primary prevention programs. For the past 15 years both the present and the previous government have cut funding for all of the programs and services which help women, children, and families.

Five minutes ago, as I write this letter from my Victim Services office in our RCMP detachment building, I heard the sobs of a young woman who was reporting her assault to the police. It was a timely and emotional reminder to me that violence toward women – of all ages – continues not only throughout the world, the nation, and the province, but here in our own community.  So please join me in signing the petition.

This week is also an appropriate time to remind you of the services that are available locally.  Among them are “Stop the Violence Women’s Counseling” and “Children Who Witness Abuse Counseling” – free services just a phone call away at 250-499-2352, and RCMP Victim Services at 250-499-5511. Each of these is under the umbrella of LSCSS  ( Lower Similkameen Community Services.) Last year our own PVPP (the lower Similkameen’s Proactive Violence Prevention Project) was instrumental in launching “Change For Good” – the newest related program in our area. CFG is a free counseling and support service for both male and female spousal abusers who wish to address and stop their abusive behaviors. The service is offered both in Keremeos and in Penticton, and can be reached at 250-488-5939.  And if you prefer support regarding domestic or sexual assult from a non-local or a non-police-related service, you can contact SOVAS  (South Okanagan Victim Assistance) at 250-493-0800. Let me also acknowledge and thank the one-hundred-plus men who comprise PVPP’s “Men Together Initiative”, and whose united stand against domestic violence gave support to find funding for their natural outgrowth, “Change for Good”. If you are a male age 16 or over and have not yet joined “Men Together”, I invite you to get on board. Contact me at 250-499-5511 to add your name and sign our pledge:  “I pledge never to commit, condone, or remain silent about violence to women and children.”

Ron Shonk, PVPP Coordinator