Guest Blog: Intimate Partner Violence declared epidemic in Halton

By: Laurie Hepburn, Executive Director of Halton Women’s Place

Domestic violence is not a private matter; it is a pervasive issue that affects families and our community. Halton, in alignment with the recommendations of a pivotal inquiry, has officially declared domestic and intimate partner violence, an epidemic. This declaration is more than just words; it’s a rallying cry, a recognition of the magnitude of the issue, and a call to action. It signifies that domestic violence exhibits many characteristics of an epidemic, making it a public health crisis that demands our collective response.

The 2015 Renfrew County Inquest delved into the tragic murders of three women in Pembroke, Ontario, all by the same perpetrator, and all seen as predictable and preventable. This inquiry emphasized the importance of early intervention, effective communication among agencies, and support for victims in domestic violence cases. It highlighted that domestic violence is not isolated but a widespread problem that requires our collective action.

Like a conventional epidemic, domestic violence is marked by its prevalence.

It affects a significant portion of our population, transcending boundaries of age, gender, socioeconomic status, and ethnicity. Statistics reveal that millions of individuals, primarily women, experience domestic violence worldwide. Domestic violence also has severe health consequences, like infectious diseases. Victims suffer not only physical injuries but also psychological trauma, leading to long-term health issues. These effects ripple through families and communities, creating generational cycles of violence and trauma. Domestic violence can escalate rapidly, mirroring the rapid spread of infectious diseases. What might begin as emotional abuse or controlling behavior can swiftly escalate to physical violence, potentially resulting in severe injuries or even homicide.

Domestic violence continues to plague our region.

At Halton Women’s Place, we see nearly 150 women and children through our safe shelter doors each year, answer over 2000 crisis calls and support over 500 women through our community outreach services.

Our Halton Regional Police Services are responding to an average of 10 calls a day related to intimate partner violence. These numbers represent our loved ones, neighbours, friends, and family. Domestic violence statistics are only the tip of the iceberg, as they significantly underestimate the true extent of the problem due to widespread underreporting, often driven by fear, shame, or the lack of supportive resources for survivors.

Every day, we see brave women and children, taking the courageous steps to flee domestic violence and abuse. We provide a safe haven, information and support for women and children to move forward to a life free from violence. But our services can only go so far, and each year, we are also referring hundreds of women elsewhere or out of region, due to our shelters being at capacity. The lack of safe, affordable housing and wait lists of up to two years for subsidized housing in Halton and surrounding areas results in women staying in shelters longer with nowhere to go. This is a challenge all too familiar to shelters across Ontario and Canada.  

Halton Women’s Place, along with our partners and allies, remains steadfast in our commitment to addressing this crisis. Together, we stand with survivors, dispel myths, and urge our community, leaders, and policymakers to join us in this crucial battle against domestic violence.

Give to the Oakville Resiliency Fund to help address the IPV epidemic


Please note, we are not a client service provider. If you need support, please see the resources below:

If You Need Support:

  • Halton Women’s Place 24/7 Crisis Intervention and Support
    905-332-7892 or 905-878-8555 or
  • SAVIS 24/7 Crisis Support
  • Halton Regional Police Services Intimate Partner Violence Unit