© Heather Taweel
Ann Sherman, chairwoman of the Premier's Action Committee on Family Violence Prevention, unveiled the committee's updated strategy Wednesday.
Ann Sherman recalls years ago when a presentation on family violence was held in P.E.I., nobody came.
She believes people stayed away, in part, out of fear others might think there was violence occurring in their homes.
Times have changed – thankfully for the better.
“One of the things I have noticed is people are much more open to discussing family violence,’’ says Sherman, the chairwoman of the Premier’s Action Committee on Family Violence Prevention.
“Within communities, within groups and I think even within families there is much more openness there.’’
The committee, over the past 20 years, has put great focus on public awareness in working to prevent and address family violence.
As a result, Islanders today are more likely to seek help when faced with family violence.
“Because of the work that we’ve done, victims, survivors, abusers even, know where they can go…to get help,’’ says Sherman.
“The promotion of those services, I think, have really made a difference.’’
Not surprising, then, the committee is for the most part sticking with a successful formula.
The newly updated strategy of the Premier’s Action Committee, unveiled Wednesday, focuses attention on prevention, public engagement and education.
Goals of the strategy include province-wide awareness and sensitivity about the extent, impact, and nature of family violence; improved access to information relating to family violence; and communities and specific groups, such as men and boys, engaged in work for family violence prevention.
“The response to family violence is very important but we’re all about preventing it from happening in the first place,’’ says Sherman.
“How we are going to do that is changing attitudes and that’s a long, long process.’’
The updated strategy also focuses on coordination and training; interventions and service delivery; policy, protocols, and legislation; and research and evaluation.
Sherman would like to see more detailed data compiled on the frequency and range of family violence occurring in P.E.I.
“It has nothing to do with income level, it has nothing to do with education level, it has nothing to do with where you live or how you live,’’ she says.
“It’s something that is within society and as such it is a societal problem that we have to deal with.’’