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Life filled with fear for abused women

Many reasons why they stay, poll finds

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Women stay in abusive relationships because they have children, are economically dependent on their partner and have nowhere to go, according to three-quarters of Canadians surveyed in a new national poll.

The poll, released by the Canadian Women's Foundation last week to coincide with its ninth-annual campaign to end violence against women, also shows many women don't know where to find the support that will help them leave an abusive partner.

Some safety advice for women in danger

HERE are some suggestions you can give a woman who is in an abusive relationship to increase her safety:

  • Tell someone she trusts about the abuse.
  • Plan where she should go in the event of an emergency, whether to a friend, relative, emergency shelter or police station. Tell her children how they can get help in an emergency.
  • Choose a code word the children can use when they look for help or flee from home.
  • Create a plan to get out of the home safely and practise it with her children.
  • Move to a place with a quick way to get outside when an argument starts.
  • Don't go to a room with potential weapons such as a kitchen or workshop.
  • Hide some money, a spare key and a cellphone near an escape route. Also keep copies of important documents nearby, including birth certificates.
  • Teach her children how to call 911 and why. Have a list of other emergency numbers.
  • Teach her children it is never right for anyone -- including someone they love -- to abuse someone.

-- source: Canadian Women's Foundation

Barb Judt, the chief executive officer of Osborne House, the city's shelter for women and children, said the poll's results are "absolutely true.

"That's why Osborne House has done a lot differently in the last year or so -- we're out there in the media more and we are doing more community awareness.

"And as a result, our numbers have gone up. We had a seven per cent increase from the year before last to last year."

Judt said they do community awareness because domestic violence is an issue that makes people uncomfortable, so they don't speak about it.

"We talk about it and the media has been supportive, so people out there know what resources are out there to help."

But Judt said she knows it is difficult for anyone to get out of an abusive relationship.

"When you are dependent on somebody and they say 'How can you make it on your own?' you start to believe them," she said.

"It's a startling statistic, but people don't realize how hard it is to get out of a relationship. When you leave, you have to start all over again and that's hard."

Judt urged women in abusive relationships to call the crisis line at 204-942-3052.

"Even if they just have questions, they can call," she said.

"And we have outreach work, too. They can go home at night so their partner won't even know they are getting support."

The poll was created by first questioning 1,008 randomly selected Canadian adults who are Angus Reid Forum panelists and then statistically weighing those results to the current education, age, gender and region census data to create a poll sample representative of the entire Canadian adult population.

kevin.rollason@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition April 29, 2013 B2

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Updated on Monday, April 29, 2013 at 7:36 AM CDT: corrects headline, adds fact box

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