Open letter to Health Minister Sylvia Jones re: Coercive Control

November 25, 2022   ·   0 Comments

In honour of November’s Women Abuse Prevention month and Domestic Violence, I hope to bring an increased awareness to a very serious issue in society today and to the attention of our Provincial Representative, Sylvia Jones, whom I am acquainted with personally. The general concept of Domestic Violence is of a woman with bruises or broken limbs but there is another form of abuse which I will address here today, that of Coercive Control.  

Coercive Control is a form of mental and emotional abuse referring to a pattern of controlling, aggressive behaviours in an intimate partner relationship which frequently leads to physical violence. The Ontario Government has so far introduced a Coercive Control Bill but it has yet, to my knowledge, placed any laws in the Criminal Code beneath it by which the police and the courts may act to protect victims of Domestic Violence and to prosecute the perpetrators. Nor has our Federal Liberal Government addressed a bill for Coercive Control, although other countries and some US States have already done so.  

Thus, my question to Sylvia Jones, as the Minister of Health, is this: what is your government doing to support victims of Domestic Violence and Coercive Control at this present time and what is the status of this bill? Will your government create laws to protect such victims and prosecute the perpetrators of abuse and violence? And if so, when?

As I have mentioned before, I have in the past volunteered for our women’s shelter and Victim’s Services. I am also very familiar with a recent case of Domestic Violence involving an elderly person who experienced great heartbreak in having to file a report of spousal assault with the police. It turns out that this elderly complainant’s audio statement was lost by the police. There was no notification of this loss to the complainant nor was the complainant asked to replace the lost audio statement. Thus I would ask, is this the present-day practice of the police not to notify a complainant about a lost statement and not to ask for a replacement of such statement? The complainant also had concerns about the young police officer as to whether he received any guidance and support from his office in regard to this loss. 

In domestic violence cases, a crown attorney is appointed to represent the victim. In this particular case, the crown attorney was not notified either of this lost statement for a number of months following the initial charge of assault and when finally notified by the young police officer, who asked if the original statement should be retaken, the crown attorney instead filed for a dismissal of the case. The crown also did not inform the victim of this lost statement. Both the police and the crown attorney discounted and dismissed the pain and suffering of this elderly complainant’s experience with the law only reflecting what is well known to many victims of Domestic Violence in that the victim is victimized all over again by the present-day system of the courts of law.  

Our governments put out grandiose but empty-worded statements about their concerns for victims of Domestic Violence yet they do nothing about creating laws in the Criminal Code of Canada which would give the police and the courts more power in the protection of victims of domestic violence and in prosecuting its perpetrators. At present, our women’s shelters offer not only the protection needed but also counselling support and housing for victims of domestic violence. 

Our own Family Transition Place in Orangeville has applied for a grant to fund an extension of their residential housing for victims but as of yet the government has not seen fit to allow this funding for this much-needed expansion. Thus, I ask…. when will our governments back up their words of concern for victims of Domestic Violence by passing the necessary Coercive Control Bill and placing the necessary laws in the Criminal Code of Canada.

Sandra Small Proudfoot

Mono, Ontario

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