How to identify and address gender-based violence.
This is where the Centre for Research and Education on Violence Against Women and Children (CREVAWC) at Western University comes in.
Gender-based violence encompasses two complex issues: its pervasive presence in Canadian society, where intimate partner violence accounts for 30 per cent of police responses to violent crimes, and the distressing fact that 45 per cent of substantiated child maltreatment cases involve children exposed to domestic violence.
Compounding the issue is that it is rarely talked about. That baffles Katreena Scott, a psychologist and CREVAWC academic director.
But she emphasizes that education and awareness can make a positive impact – which is exactly the focus of CREVAWC, a centre housed within Western's Faculty of Education.
“When someone is killed by an intimate partner, we go back and try to understand what happened. One of our most important findings is that people saw the risk factors and warning signs, but they didn’t recognize them or know what to do. CREVAWC is a hub for finding that information and sharing it with service providers, friends, neighbours, families and other researchers and in bringing all these people together so they will understand and know what to do.”
Katreena is alarmed by the insufficient formal education provided to students aspiring to become health professionals and service providers.
And further positive impact can be made by having men discuss why they are abusive. Caring Dads is a program developed by Katreena and colleagues in 2001 that brings together fathers involved in domestic violence.
“We started Caring Dads because we realized we weren’t talking to men as fathers. A father would perpetrate violence against his wife and kids and would go into the police system. Nobody was talking to that man about why this happened and then inviting him to be a better father and to look at his behaviours and the harm he had caused his family.”
The program now operates around the world and is proving that men who were once abusive can change their behaviour. “They can become more respectful towards their partners and less abusive in their relationships. Their children talk about their fathers being more present, more interested, safer and kinder.”
Katreena emphasizes that a reduction in gender-based violence is not only possible – it’s necessary.