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Letter to the editor: Advocating for Domestic Violence

A letter to the editor from  Sandy Hedstrom 
letter to the editor graphic stock
Letter to the editor. (Shutterstock)

I have been ADVOCATING for Domestic Violence for 10 months now. The more reading, researching I do, the more roadblocks I am finding.

Sask. Has the Highest rate of DOMESTIC VIOLENCE (DV) in all of Canada per Provinces. I have been working, researching, and talking to a lot of Government Agencies and Ministers of Social Work, Minister of Justice, Chief of Staff for Minister of Justice and those representing the Premier. The Pandemic has really taken a toll on our Mental Health System.  I am seeing and hearing of many more DV offences but the vicious cycle of the honeymoon phrase sucks the victim back into the abuse and in the end we have fatalities and statistics, because victims cannot find a safe place to go and get help and counselling to learn a healthy way to live. 

That being said, I believe we need stiffer fines, stiffer sentences, police need to be able to hand out more no contact orders, Social Services and Child Protection Services should be able to check on child visits that are court ordered after no contact is over-turned, and Social Services and CPS should be writing reports so judges have to reconsider the visitation they have made for offender when there was a no contact order in place.  Judges should always start with a supervised visitation.  Why should the children, victims of DV be put back into the same house with no support and safety plan in place? 

I have been informed that all Criminal Court charges are decided by Federal Government and All Court of Queen’s Bench Charges (including Family Court) are decoded by Provincial Government.  So I learned this year, a person can be charged with Criminal Harassment, be found Guilty, receive 18 months Probation, mandated to Anger Management  Course,  Mental  Health  Counselling,  Personal  Counselling and Learning  Assessment,  and if completed in 18 months will not have a Criminal Record. Really!!! 

We adjourned Criminal Court 4 times, wasting court’s time, wasting judge’s time, COVID backlog, and then no Criminal Charges? 

Why did we not charge person with harassment in Provincial Court and not call it Criminal??? 

We have a Domestic Violence Course in Sk. but it is booked solid for 18 months I am told, so when Prosecutor suggested, the answer was, ‘won’t bother with that.’ 

This is where you learn your behaviours are not normal and that is why I say stiffer fines to hire more facilitators to instruct Course.

"The File Hills Tribal Council in Fort Qu’Appelle, Sk., has a 52 week DV Prevention Program on reserves and jail. Attendees say it would have been easier going to jail. Restorative Director, Bev Poitras believes helping perpetrators learn how to change their behavior will be more effective in stopping DV than helping women or families flee to shelters." QUOTED from CBC, March 08, 2020. 

Please look into this program as I believe it would help victims and perpetrators to learn a healthy way to live in a relationship. Anger Management Course done online:  anyone can sign in to anyone's accounts or computers to do an online course. I propose an online Anger Management Course should be done on a zoom platform in a group setting. That way perpetrators are learning from others how to change the anger, what is healthy, what is not acceptable, and how to calm yourself before the gasket blows.

I would also like to see a DV course in high schools. We should be educating the students as to what is acceptable and what is not acceptable  in relationships.  A lot of children live everyday of their lives in homes that have DV and have no idea that homes have love and compassion, not just someone telling you, you are stupid, you are bad, you don't know anything, never hearing you did good, you tried your hardest, be kind, do something nice for someone each day, please and thank you, I love you no matter what.  I believe if educated about the so-called normal, do not let peers and bullies pressure you into something you do not want to do in your life, but because peers are pushing you to do things, you do them.

How would you feel, if when your family walks in your door, they are blaming themselves for everything that went wrong, questioning if they did the right thing by leaving, wanting to go back. They have been put thru the wringer, mentally and emotionally exhausted, fearing for their lives, being stalked, being tracked, every text message read, and every phone call listened to. It became the saddest day of my life.  It takes a lot of time to love these victims back to believing in themselves.  I am advocating for All the fatalities and statistics,  and all the spouses, (male, female, gay, lesbian, etc.), and all the children that have to live this life as they cannot find a safe place to get to, and no family to support them.

Thank God I am retired and have time to look into all this research, phone numbers, email addresses, write emails, make phone calls, and ask questions. Most people fleeing DV do not have the time, they are mentally and emotionally exhausted and cannot think straight and are overwhelmed to even start this prolonged fight for themselves.

Please help by calling or writing every government person you can find a number for. The government has increased DUI charges numerous times; now it is time to increase domestic violence charges before we loose our loved one forever when they become statistics.  
Sandy Hedstrom 

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the position of this publication.