In Her Shoes raises profile of domestic violence

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Posted By Don Robinet/Courier Press staff

Cindy Howes, left, and Tonya Verburg of the Chatham-Kent Women’s Centre hold up some of the shoes representing the 280 women and 43 children who have been murdered in the past 10 years in Ontario through domestic violence. — Don Robinet/Courier Press

Since 1995, 280 women and 43 children have died as the result of domestic violence in Ontario.

Those are statistics that often just seem like numbers without any meaning to people.

To help bring the message to the public that these are real people, the Chatham-Kent Women’s Centre put together a display called In Her Shoes.

The display visited the parking lot of the Wallaceburg Service Centre on Thursday morning.

There were 280 pairs of women’s shoes on display and 43 pairs of children’s shoes. Beside each pair of shoes is the story of the real people who died in violence.

“When you see the shoes together it really creates an impact, when you see how many people have been affected by domestic violence,” says Tonya Verburg, residential manager at the shelter run by the women’s centre. She adds, “We can’t have closed eyes to it.”

2008 abuse statistics

* Seven per cent of Ontario women living in a common law or marital relationship reported experiencing physical/sexual assault by their partner at least once during the period from 1999 to 2004.

* There have been about 25 female victims of spousal homicide each year in Ontario from 1975 to 2004.

* Almost 40 per cent of women assaulted by spouses said their children witnessed the violence against them and in many cases the violence was severe.

* Eleven per cent of non-aboriginal and 21 per cent of aboriginal women in Canada reported experiencing criminal harassment (stalking) during the period 1999 to 2004.

* In 2004, aboriginal women were three times more likely to experience spousal violence and the rate of spousal homicide for aboriginal women is eight times the rate for non-aboriginal women.

* Seventy-four per cent of women living in Ontario shelters in 2004 were victims of abuse.

* In 2004, 53 per cent of women escaping abuse situations were admitted to shelters with their children and 65 per cent of these children were under the age of 10.

* The social cost of violence against women is high. Spousal violence has psychological, physical, social and economic impact for victims, their families and society.

* It is estimated the economic cost of violence against women to health, criminal justice, social services and lost productivity range in the billions of dollars.

Article ID# 1326140

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