Vol. 81, No. 3News notes

Female RCMP officer in plain clothes stands among RCMP cruisers looking at camera.

RCMP works with friends of murdered teen

Violent intimate partner relationships usually start with a period of bliss before a gradual escalation of abuse, according to RCMP Cpl. Samara Bilmer. Credit: Jenna Hauck, Courtesy of The Chilliwack Progress


Looking back at the two years before her friend was murdered by a jealous ex-boyfriend, Benisha Aujla can identify all the signs that Maple Batalia was in a violent relationship and needed help.

In September 2011, Batalia was stabbed then shot dead in a parking lot of her Surrey university campus, after trying to end the relationship. She was 19.

"We never thought it would lead to this, we just thought he was a jerk," says Aujla. "We didn't know what abuse could look like."

Eight years after the murder, Aujla is working with the RCMP in British Columbia to reduce intimate partner violence by shedding light on the most common signs of a violent relationship.

Since last fall, Aujla and two other friends of Batalia's from high school have visited schools in B.C's Lower Mainland presenting Batalia's story as a cautionary tale to students in grades 8 to 12.

The hour-long presentation includes a talk on youth intimate partner violence, a documentary of the murder and a Q&A session with Batalia's friends and RCMP Cpl. Samara Bilmer.

"It can happen in dating relationships and it's not just a single punch to the face," says Bilmer, who works in the Serious Crimes Unit in Chilliwack, B.C.

During the session, Bilmer goes through Criminal Code offences presents them in a way that's relevant to youth.

"They often don't know that doing anything that makes someone fearful can be a criminal act," she says.

The warnings signs of intimate partner violence in youth can be stalking, excessive phone calls or texts, breaking windows, keying a car, breaking a cellphone so it can't be used, or even threatening to kill themselves or a pet if their partner breaks up with them.

According to Aujla, Maple's boyfriend attempted suicide twice when she tried to leave him — once by driving his car into a pole and another time by overdosing on medication.

It's important to get help as soon as possible because incidents often become more severe each time, according to Bilmer.

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