Program Tackles Domestic Violence
A victim of abuse never feels completely safe unless the perpetrator
is locked away in a jail cell. But a coalition of organizations
is doing what it can to bring fearful women some peace of mind.
AWARE (Abused Women's Active Response Emergency) is a group of
concerned organizations, including police forces, women's shelters,
and ADT Canada Inc. AWARE is active in 23 Canadian cities, and 65
in the USA.
The program provides victims of abuse, all women to date, with
a personal alarm device. When the alarm is activated, it is considered
an assault in progress. A signal is sent to ADT, who relay it to
the local police department. A review of assault cases showed that,
in a typical incident, the attacker tore out the telephone, so ADT
suggested they use an alarm system independent of the telephone.
ADT provides the alarms free of charge, and teaches women and their
children how to use them.
A truly co-operative initiative, AWARE fills a critical void in
a time of massive cuts to government social services. As Windsor
Mayor Mike Hurst said when his city joined the program last February:
"The partnership of the Windsor Police Services, Hiatus House
and ADT Canada is another example of how business can work in a
creative way with public organizations to meet critical needs when
public funding is reduced."
AWARE (formerly DVERS) was born in Winnipeg in March, 1991 when
a local women's shelter realized that its clients needed a direct
line to police in situations where they needed physical protection.
The shelter initially used a medical alert system linked to a local
hospital, but the hospital was not set up to transfer signals to
the Winnipeg police.
To further complicate matters, in Winnipeg, permits are required
for alarm systems that elicit police response. Winnipeg police recommended
that a company specializing in security systems be consulted. This
was when ADT entered the picture.
Police departments and women's groups have developed criteria to
screen applicants. For instance, an applicant must have already
made a complaint to police of physical violence towards her; she
must be separated from her partner, or spouse; the potential abuser
must be under charge, investigation or court order in connection
with violence or threats of violence; and reconciliation cannot
be an option at the time of application.
The applicant also must be willing to co-operate with help groups
and police, and be willing to follow other protective measures and
be competent to carry out instructions on how to operate the alarm.
Those involved agree AWARE alone cannot solve the deep-rooted challenge
of domestic violence. But people must do what they can to help says
ADT director of marketing Ana Castanheira: "These acts of violence,
and the enduring effects they have on women and their children,
must be stopped."
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