TORONTO, Dec. 5, 2014 /CNW/ - As the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women approaches, Ontario nurses want to commend women who have demonstrated courage by speaking out about instances of abuse and violence in their lives.
"We have witnessed a shift in recent weeks with countless numbers of women coming forward and talking about their experiences of sexual assault. This is encouraging, but we have to find a way to give voice to those who still feel afraid, ashamed, or embarrassed to ask for help," says Doris Grinspun, Chief Executive Officer of the Registered Nurses' Association of Ontario (RNAO).
Grinspun says one way to help women is with widespread adoption of a Best Practice Guideline the association developed to screen for abuse. Developed for nurses, the guideline includes a protocol in which all females over the age of 12 are asked if they've ever experienced physical, sexual or emotional abuse. "That kind of exchange can help start a conversation and could lead someone to disclose abuse in their lives," says Grinspun adding, "the guideline can be used in any health setting including an emergency room, a health clinic, a school, or during a home care visit."
Despite the existence of the screening tool, RNAO President Vanessa Burkoski acknowledges nurses themselves aren't immune to violence. "They experience it in their workplaces and in their personal lives," she says recalling the murders of Lori Dupont, a nurse from Windsor and Sonia Varaschin, a nurse from Orangeville. This past weekend, another nurse, Zahra Abdille, was found dead in her Toronto apartment along with her two children. Although police are still investigating the circumstances that led to her death, it's been reported that she had experienced abuse at the hands of her partner.
"Violence is a health issue, and that's why this weekend's 25th anniversary of the killing of 14 women in Montreal is so important to mark. We have an opportunity to recognize that gender violence continues and must be tackled head on. If we don't, many more anniversaries will pass before we see an end," says Burkoski. She says a first step at the federal level would be Prime Minister Stephen Harper's call for a national inquiry into the missing and murdered aboriginal women. At the provincial level, RNAO urges universal screening of physical, sexual or emotional abuse from age 12 and on.
The Registered Nurses' Association of Ontario (RNAO) is the professional association representing registered nurses, nurse practitioners, and nursing students in Ontario. Since 1925, RNAO has advocated for healthy public policy, promoted excellence in nursing practice, increased nurses' contribution to shaping the health-care system, and influenced decisions that affect nurses and the public they serve.
SOURCE: Registered Nurses' Association of Ontario
For further information: To arrange an interview with a nurse, or to learn more about RNAO's Best Practice Guideline on Woman Abuse: Screening, Identification and Initial Response, please contact: Marion Zych, Director of Communications, Registered Nurses' Association of Ontario (RNAO), 158 Pearl Street, Toronto, ON, 416-408-5605 (office), 647-406-5605 (cellular)