In North Delta alone, about 300 women and children fleeing domestic violence were turned away from shelters last year, according to Cori Kleisinger, of YWCA Arbour House.
That was one of the shocking statistics presented at the Network to Eliminate Violence in Relationships (NEVR) annual conference, which looked at the resources available to help victims like them across the Lower Mainland and how to combat the lack of shelter beds.
Held at the Surrey campus of Kwantlen Polytechnic University (KPU) and hosted by the school’s nursing students, the 8th annual Healthy Families: Services and Solutions conference brought together community service providers to share ideas and build working relationships to tackle relationship violence.
“We must all work together as a community in order to change culture,” says Dr. Balbir Gurm, co-founder of NEVR and a nursing instructor at KPU.
"Intimate partner violence is a serious criminal matter that has a significant impact on society," says Delta Police Chief Neil Dubord, one of the presenters at the conference.
“The toll is apparent in both traumatized children, who may not develop to their potential, or adult victims with ongoing health problems,” he says. “Building a society where abuse will not be tolerated involves all the stakeholders, as well as education, prevention and enforcement.”
Survivors of domestic abuse spoke about their personal stories including author Kamal Dhillon. Her book, I am Kamal: From Survivor to Thriver, was released at the end of the conference and showcases how survivors can move on from an abusive experience.
“I will not let my past define me – it drives me,” she says.
To bring attention to survivor stories like Dhillon’s story, there is a visual art display at the art gallery at the KPU Library in Surrey called Broken Teapots. The display is a mix of visuals and poems by A. Alexon.
To learn more about NEVR, visit www.kpu.ca/NEVR.