News Local

Cornerstone speaks out as violence hits home in Cobourg

Cecilia Nasmith

By Cecilia Nasmith, Northumberland Today

(Postmedia Network photo illustration)

(Postmedia Network photo illustration)

NORTHUMBERLAND - Approximately every six days, a woman in Canada is killed by her intimate partner and, with last Friday's shooting, Northumberland County made its own contribution to that statistic.

Following the Oct. 27 event, Cornerstone Family Violence Prevention Centre issued a statement.

The incident took place late that afternoon, when former Campbellford resident, Helen Ryan was shot by her husband of 46 years, a man who has been reported to have a long history of domestic abuse.

A 2013 Statistics Canada report found women were victims in about 80% of intimate-partner violence reported to police, and account for 80% of domestic homicide victims. The statement noted, however, that the rate of domestic violence is likely much higher, as 70% of spousal violence is not reported to the police.

"As we enter into Women Abuse Prevention Month it is imperative that we draw attention to, and not lose sight of, what has happened within our community -- the tragic event that has taken place is the most severe form of domestic violence," Cornerstone executive director Nancy Johnston stated in the press release.

"To end family violence it is imperative to bring the issue further into the open, and let go of the stereotypes and misconceptions that allow people to believe it couldn't happen to them, or here in Northumberland County."

Domestic violence has deep and broad roots, exceeding the confines of culture, economics, race or gender, and defying stereotypes of what an abuser or victim looks like, the statement said.

"Though traumatic events like this shock our community, it is important to remember that Northumberland County is no stranger to family and intimate-partner violence. Each year Cornerstone serves thousands of women and children through shelter, counselling and prevention programs."

In its work, Cornerstone strives to influence, educate and collaborate with the community, while working closely with community partners to connect victims and their families to local services.

"Cornerstone believes that building and maintaining strategic partnerships with the local and wider communities is essential to meeting the needs of clients, and it is through recognizing and understanding the warning signs of abuse that it is possible to change the outcome of such situations before they become fatal," it said.

These could include safety planning and support for victims and their families, building awareness and skills for professionals and the community, and focusing on prevention initiatives.

The statement called upon the community to stand together through this traumatic time, and understand that family violence is a community issue which requires community solutions.

"We owe it to the victims and surviving family members to do a better job in preventing these tragedies, and we owe it to ourselves to make every effort we can to create a violence free future where hope can take root and grow," it said.

If you, or someone you love, are struggling with abuse, you can seek support at any time by connecting with the Cornerstone 24-hour support line at 905-372-0746 or 1-800-263-3757.