Vol. 78, No. 2Editorial message

Woman on floor crying.

When relationships turn violent


Back when I worked as a budding reporter for my local weekly, I interviewed a young woman for an article and published her photo alongside it. After it went to print, a very friendly guy turned up at our news office wanting to know where we had taken her photo and asking for her phone number so he could reconnect with an "old friend." It didn't feel right. Sure enough, he turned out to be her abusive ex-boyfriend.

In this issue, we explore one of the most difficult and pervasive problems in our communities — relationship violence. While police have come a long way in how they intervene in these calls — placing added focus on the victims and their safety — the cases remain challenging, complex and dangerous for all concerned.

For our cover story, Amelia Thatcher delves into how police are working hard to change the outcomes for victims by improving how they share, communicate and act on high-risk cases.

She also examines the results of a study in the Northwest Territories that examines intimate partner violence in remote communities. The information will help police target their own training and refer victims to available resources.

As family violence also extends to dating violence, Eric Stewart looks at how police and other organizations are reaching out to young people to talk frankly about what is and what isn't healthy in a relationship.

We also look at the complex nature of honour-based violence. C/Supt. Shahin Mehdizadeh explains why police need to work on their relationships with members of cultural communities, what they should be aware of during an investigation, and how to keep victims safe even when the main perpetrators are behind bars.

Children are by far the most vulnerable victims of family violence. RCMP Cst. Michael Simpson touches on the best ways to approach children who are subjected to violence in the home. His tips on how to talk to a child are invaluable.

And Lieut. Derek Prestridge of the Texas Department of Public Safety describes a program that trains patrol officers to identify children who are victims of abuse or abduction during traffic stops. One key piece of advice: speak directly to the child.

At the other end of the age spectrum, we hear from the Calgary Police Service's Elder Abuse Response Team. Created in 2011, CPS works with other support services to ensure older people have a safe place to turn when family members or other trusted people become abusive.

Family violence isn't a nice topic. It's often difficult to address. And it's not going away. For these reasons, we hope this issue offers some useful advice for those of you who see far too much of it in the course of your work, but continue to make a difference.


In "Live-tweeting a terrorist attack" (Vol. 78, No. 1), the individuals involved in felling Parliament Hill attacker Michael Zehaf-Bibeau were inaccurately identified as a squad of RCMP tactical officers, when they were in fact RCMP regular members and former House of Commons Protective Service members (now the Parliamentary Protective Service). We apologize for the error.

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