In last week’s issue, I wondered why the OPP did not name the OPP officer who had been accused of domestic abuse. I was pointing out that, to my mind, no-one accused, but not found guilty of a crime should be named in press releases. But that led to an interesting conversation with Constable Cathy Lindsay, Community Services and Media Relations at the local OPP detachment. She told me that the reason the OPP officer was not named was not to protect his identity, but that of his victim.
It is OPP policy never to release the name of an accused in a domestic abuse situation, whether they are an OPP officer or not, so as to protect the identity and the privacy of the victim. This is a really important point that Constable Lindsay made, especially in the current climate created by the MeToo movement. Domestic abuse, sexual abuse of women and children, and the fear and shame that often prevents victims from reporting such abuse, is a topic that is finally getting the attention it deserves.
What has become clear through these news reports is that victims, particularly women, find it very hard to come forward, and it takes a great deal of strength and support for them to do so and be believed. The OPP policy allows victims to report this cowardly and obnoxious abuse knowing that their identity, and also that of their children and other family members, will be protected.
The Kemptville detachment of the OPP have procedures in place to take care of victims of abuse when they come to their notice. They work closely with Interval House and Leeds Grenville Victim Services to give these people access to support and whatever follow-up services they may need. Victim Services provide help to women, children and seniors who have been victims of various kinds of abusive, and at times of tragedy and loss. Their website allows people to find information on a wide variety of situations, from abuse relationships to planning for their personal safety after escaping an abusive situation.
Leeds & Grenville Interval House provides help for women and children who have experienced violence and their Mission Statement describes their role clearly:
“Our mission is to provide emergency shelter, supportive counselling, advocacy, information, and referrals for abused women and their children who have been physically, sexually, emotionally or psychologically abused, threatened, or assaulted.
“We assist women to make changes, allowing them to live violence-free lives. We help their children heal from their experience of violence in the home, and its impact upon them.
All services are confidential and offered free of charge. We believe it is a basic human right to live without fear of physical, sexual, emotional, or psychological abuse”.
Visitors to their website seeking information will also be told how to cover their on-line tracks so no-one will know they accessed it. Contact information for Interval House is: 24-hour help line at 613-342-8815, or 1-800-267-4409. www.http://lgih.ca.
Victim Services of Leeds & Grenville: www.vslg.ca.
Thanks to Constable Cathy Lindsay.