Fifteen people died this year because of conjugal violence – including two in Laval

AFEAS observes 12 days of action against violence to women

Since last year and up to November 30, 15 people from across Quebec spanning many age groups were killed as a direct result of acts of domestic violence, including two children recently in Laval.

From the left, women’s shelters coordinators Joannie Miller, Audrey Leclerc and Cassandra Gareghty. (Photo: Martin C. Barry, Newsfirst Multimedia)

Local domestic violence

The violent deaths of 13-year-old Angel Arora and her 11-year-old brother Aaron in Sainte-Dorothée made grim headlines across the country only recently.

They were just two individuals whose names appeared on a long list of fatalities that was read out during an annual gathering and panel discussion held by the Laval branch of the Association féministe d’éducation et d’action sociale (AFEAS) in Auteuil last week, in conjunction with several local women’s shelters.

Impact of violence

Panelists Audrey Leclerc, Cassandra Gereghty and Joannie Miller, who are coordinators at Laval women’s shelters, spoke of the impacts of domestic violence on mother-child relationships, as well as the overall climate of tension and fear in which children in these situations live and the impact it has on their behaviour and physical and mental well-being.

In terms of possible solutions to reach out and help mothers and children faced with the prospect of violence in their home, Leclerc, Gereghty and Miller unveiled the first copies of a new guide containing useful information and resources for dealing with the problem.

New guidebook

The handbook was designed especially for families considered to be most vulnerable because they are unable to reach out to shelters where information and resources are normally available. The creation of the guide was led by Leclerc who works for the Le Prélude women’s shelter, and written by Gereghty with Leclerc, with assistance from several professional consultants in domestic violence.

From Nov. 25 until Dec. 6, AFEAS Laval held its 26th annual Opération Tendre la main campaign to raise awareness of violence committed against women. The last day of the campaign fell on the date of the 1989 mass shooting at the École Polytechnique de Montréal, in which 14 women were shot to death and 14 other women and men were injured.

White Ribbon campaign

From the left (background), Laval-area women’s shelters coordinators Joannie Miller, Audrey Leclerc and Cassandra Gareghty spoke during AFEAS Laval’s gathering last week about various issues involving domestic violence. (Photo: Martin C. Barry, Newsfirst Multimedia)

Each year, an important component of the campaign is the White Ribbon, a symbol worn or displayed to raise awareness of the fact that violence manifests itself more than just physically, and can also be psychological, verbal, financial, systemic or sexual. The White Ribbon is worn as an inverted V, symbolozing a rejection of violence.

AFEAS has been using the White Ribbon symbol since the late 1990s. The organization recommends wearing it for three specific occasions: Whenever a woman dies violently as a result of domestic violence or a sexual assault; for a week around the third Friday in September, which is a day of solidarity against violence done to women; and during the 12 days of action against violence done to women from Nov. 25 to Dec. 6 each year.

Some useful resources

For those who may currently be impacted by domestic violence, here is a list of local resources available in the Laval region:

  • Maison Le Prélude: 450 682-3050;
  • Maison L’Esther: 450 963-6161;
  • Maison de Lina: 450 962-8085.

As well, the following resources in Laval are also recommended by AFEAS: SOS Violence conjugale: 1-800-363-9010; Shield of Athena: 450 688-6584; CPIVAS (for sexual assaults): 450 669-9053.