Twenty groups signed a “Domestic Violence Accord” in Castlegar last week, outlining protocols for each agency in the event a woman should ask for help.
Leanna Kozak of Castlegar RCMP Victim Services and Kris Taks of the Castlegar and District Community Services Society spearheaded the accord, which they started talking about a year and a half ago within the Violence Against Women in Relationships committee.
“Our group talked a lot about the complexities in helping women,” Taks said.
“How can we make sure we can support women who have experienced domestic violence?” Kozak wondered.
They began to spread the word to different agencies in Castlegar, Nelson and Trail to see who would be interested and also secured funding in the process.
“It was thinking anywhere a woman might show up who has experienced abuse,” Kozak said.
Soon, they had 20 different agencies on board, including the RCMP, public health, transition houses, counselling services, School District 20.
“I can see as time goes on we’ll add more,” Kozak said.
The protocol involved the agency identifying their mandate and explaining what services they provide (such as risk assessment).
“So if the woman shows up, here’s where you can refer her,” Kozak said, explaining each agency will have a resource list because of the accord.
By having everyone come together last week, Kozak said it was nice for representatives to meet each other and find out more about what each other does in the community.
“It helped clarify for them in their own agencies what we do and don’t do,” she said.
“I think it’s fair to say women have slipped through the cracks in this community,” Taks said.
“If this helps one woman, it was worth the year and a half of work.”
With city council supporting the accord, Kozak said it will now go to the provincial level as an example, as Castlegar is one of the first communities to have such a document.