Intimate-Partner Violence - Before Fear Gives Way to Tragedy

October 12th, 2018
Bloc text

by Chantal Arseneault, President of the Regroupement des maisons pour femmes victimes de violence conjugale

On October 8, 2018, Nathalie Blais, a mother of four, was killed by her ex-partner when she went to collect her laptop at his home in Drummondville. After six months together, she had decided to end the relationship. Fearing how her ex-partner would react, she shared her concerns with her loved ones and asked a friend to go with her to collect her belongings. Unfortunately, this precaution was not enough.

When women are afraid of their partners or ex-partners, it's a loud and clear alarm bell that should never be downplayed. Threats and violence often intensify during periods of separation. Feelings of fear often mean that there were preliminary signals that should not be ignored. In 2015, more than one-sixth (16.9%) of attempted murders in Quebec occurred in an intimate-partner setting. Women were the primary target of attempted murders in an intimate-partner setting (80.6%)1.

To avoid irreparable damage, as was the case for Nathalie Blais and many other women, it is crucial to listen to these signals and take them seriously.

Better Interventions

What can women and their loved ones do in situations like this one? Who can they turn to?

Many organizations exist and can offer women more protection. Women should not hesitate to contact the police or seek out support from specialized resources, even in cases of a slight concern.

They or their loved ones can call their local support organizations and shelters. Workers there will be able to listen to them, ask the right questions, evaluate the situation and offer appropriate solutions and services for their situation, with no obligations. In risky situations, support workers or the women themselves can ask for help from the police who can accompany them when they go to collect their personal belongings in the home of a partner or ex-partner.

This latest tragedy shows the importance of spreading awareness of all of the organizations and services that can help women who are victims of intimate-partner violence or who fear for their safety. If we are better informed and better equipped, we can also do more to react and intervene to avoid intimate-partner homicides.

(1) Source (in French): Ministère de la Sécurité publique du Québec. Statistiques 2015 sur les infractions contre la personne commise dans un contexte conjugal au Québec.

The original French text of this document was published in La Presse+ on 12.10.2018.