just a friendly reminder to not expect your friends, loved ones, or even those you don’t know to report to the police when experiencing violence. There are so many reasons why a person who is experiencing violence might not want to call the police. And ultimately, we need to build a community that takes the lead from the survivor.
Please don’t tell your friends that they have to or should report to the police, and please don’t isolate your friends/loved ones because… you might not understand what they’re going through.
One reason why a person might no want to report intimate partner violence to the police is because of the “Mandatory Charging” protocol in Ontario.
“Mandatory charging” means that police officers in Ontario have to lay criminal charges in domestic violence cases if they have reasonable reasons to believe that violence/abuse has taken place.
When police arrive at the scene, they are supposed to separate the people who are fighting, make sure any children are safe, gather evidence (proof) and interview each person separately to find out what happened.
Often times it can be very difficult to understand the context, intent and affect of intimate partner violence making “making charging” even more complicated.
If there is evidence that violence/abuse took place, the police are supposed to charge the “dominant aggressor” (the person who was mainly responsible for the violence).
However, the mandatory charging policy can often result in many unintended consequences and this has the most impact for folks from marginalized communities. Because:
-The policy is mainly dependent on police officers’ discretion and depending on the officer, can be open to abuse and manipulation.
-Mandatory charging policies seem to have led to an increase in dual arrests, in which police find reasonable grounds to charge both the abuser and the victim. This is especially true for queer and trans communities where patterns of power and control are very complex and where police officers lack training in understanding these issues.
-Many women are placed at a higher risk of retaliation from their abuser if charges are laid. Because of this, some women may decide not to call the police, even if their safety is at risk.
-Many women in a single-income home lose their only means of support if their partner/spouse is charged and/or put in jail. This means that some women may decide not to call the police, even if their safety is at risk.
-Immigrant women or women whose abusers are immigrants are negatively impacted by mandatory charging. Even with a “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy around immigration status, women may not call the police because they fear their partner will be deported.