The Consequences of
Using Violence

The Consequences of Using Violence with Pamela Cross

Jenna Mayne: Welcome to she is your neighbour, a show where we discuss the realities and complexities of domestic violence. This podcast is brought to you by women’s Crisis Services of Waterloo Region, a charitable organization in Ontario, Canada. I’m your host, Jenna Mayne, Join me as we talk to different people each week to learn how domestic violence impacts people from all walks of life. She is your neighbour, and we all have a role to play in ending domestic violence.

This episode is called the consequences of violence with Pamela Cross. Pamela Cross is a feminist lawyer, an advocate, and an expert on violence against women. Pam has been an expert witness on inquests and inquiries across Canada which make recommendations to prevent future violence and femicides from occurring. In this episode, we talk to Pam about the difference between an inquest and an inquiry, the consequences of criminalizing course of control, and what needs to change in our systems. This episode is part of an eight episode series called when violence escalates, which explores how violence builds, leading to severe incidents and death.

I really enjoyed speaking with Pam for this episode. She has so much knowledge and expertise and really is a leader in the violence against women space. I’m so grateful that she took the time to speak with us for this episode. We follow the advocacy work that she does at Lukes Place, and we regularly look to her and to Lukes place for direction when it comes to major events like inquests, inquiries, or proposed law changes that are happening in the VaW space. Before we get started, id like to note that the following episode includes a discussion of domestic violence and abuse, which may be distressing or traumatic for some listeners. Please take care of yourself and dont hesitate to ask for help if you need it. Before we get into the episode, I want to share more background about the particular inquest and inquiry that we the Renfrew inquest and the Nova Scotia inquiry. Both the Renfrew inquest and the Nova Scotia inquiry happened in the summer of 2022 in response to tragic acts of violence that took place in Canada years before the Renfrew tragedy happened. In the summer of 2015, Carol Culleton, Natalie Wormadam, and Anastasia Cusack were killed by a mutual ex partner who went on a shooting rampage across the Ottawa Valley, targeting and killing all three women. The other incident happened five years later in Nova Scotia in the summer of 2020. During a violent attack, 22 people were killed by a man who had used violence against his partner for years. His partner was the first person attacked during the rampage, and even though she didn’t lose her life, she experienced many severe physical injuries. Both tragedies happened in different places at different times. But there is one common factor. The perpetrator was a man who used violence against women. There’s so much we can learn from these unfortunate events, and that’s why inquests and inquiries are called. Now onto the episode.

Jenna Mayne: Hi, Pam.

Pamela Cross: Hi, Jenna.

Jenna Mayne: Thank you so much for being here today. I’m so excited to talk with you.

Pamela Cross: I’m looking forward to it.

Jenna Mayne: Oh, yeah, I’m just really excited. I’ve been following you for a while, and, you know, everyone at our organization really looks up to you, so just really excited to get talking today.

Pamela Cross: Thanks.

Jenna Mayne: So when we start here, we always like to start by asking you to share a little bit about yourself. Of course I know a bit about you, but we just thought maybe you could share more about yourself. For all those listening, I work as.

Pamela Cross: A lawyer, as a feminist lawyer on the issue of violence against women. I’ve been doing that for 30 years. I didn’t actually go to law school until I was in my mid thirties. So I got started at the legal life a little bit later than lots of people do. I went into law school because I wanted to see ways we could use law as a tool for social justice. And really quickly, once I got to law school, I saw the many ways in which women were still discriminated against by the law, under the law. And I knew that was going to become the focus of the work I was doing. The way I ended up doing violence against women work was really. I, opened my practice, and women started coming through the door who had abusive husbands, who’d been sexually assaulted or sexually harassed. And I saw just this enormous need for them to have access to good feminist legal representation. And then my work kind of took off from there. For the last 20 years, it’s all been focused on system, work, rather than acting and working as a practicing lawyer. So I’ve been working with organizations across Canada doing research, training, resource development, and, lots of work advocating for law reform and that kind of thing.

Jenna Mayne: Well, that’s great. Thank you for sharing about that. And interesting to hear you about how you got into it and the age that you got into it, too. I didn’t know that about you, so it’s cool to learn. I was also wondering if you could talk a little bit about your role at Luke’s place and tell us what your role is, what Luke’s place does.

Pamela Cross: Luke’s place is an amazing organization, and it’s an example of how even out of a terrible tragedy, good can come. Luke’s place is named after a little boy, Luke, who, when he was three and a half years old, was killed by his father on an unsupervised visit. Luke’s mom had left the marriage because of her husband’s abuse, had gone into a shelter, and had gone to family court to ensure that Luke was going to be safe. She wanted custody, and she was successful with that, and she wanted his visits with his dad to be supervised. At the beginning, because she was concerned about her ex partner’s stability, she was not successful with that, and as a result, Luke died. After that death, the community came together. This is in Durham region, to say, what can we do? And by community, I mean regular folks, lawyers, vaw workers, counselors, cas, all kinds of people. And after a few years of hard work, Luke’s place was one of the outcomes of those consultations and conversations. So the organization came into being to provide a safe space and to provide support for women leaving relationships where they had been abused as they engaged with the family law system. My role there has changed over the years. I started out doing very small bits and pieces of work, and then I began to do more and more work. I was the founding legal director and really enjoyed that role. But for the last year and a half, I’ve been the advocacy director. So I’m not as involved as I used to be in the daily activities of the organization. My work is much more focused on law and policy reform.

Jenna Mayne: Great. Thank you for sharing about that. And I know it is quite a tragedy what happened to Luke, and it reminds me of Kira, too, and Jennifer Kegg, and it makes me think of them. we had Jennifer on the podcast a while ago, and it was really good to talk with her, despite the circumstance, to see what good can come out of dark situations like that. I’ve followed your work, and I know you’ve talked a lot about hope, too. And to keep moving in this work, you really do have to have hope.

Pamela Cross: I think, in terms of the long run, if we don’t have hope, we just become overwhelmed by our despair or even by our rage, such that we have no reason to think things will get better. And then once you’re feeling like that, why bother trying, right? So it’s hard to find hope a lot of the time, but I work very hard to come back to it as often as I can.

Jenna Mayne: Yeah, I think that’s so important. I think for anyone working in this work, like you say, there’s just. There’s a lot of difficult, things that you hear and see. and it can be discouraging at times when you feel like you’re trying so hard, but I think you got to hold on to the hope. And that’s why I really love doing this podcast and getting to speak with different people, because I always hear stories of hope, and it makes me hopeful that things are going in a good direction, albeit slow. But I think we are on the right track. So I do think it’s hopefully. So, today we’re going to be talking about the legal system and if and how it can be used to prevent violence from escalating, and leading to tragic outcomes. So, I know you have been consulted as a witness and an expert in various inquests and public inquiries following tragedies related to gender based violence. I want to talk about those a bit today, but first, I’m wondering if you could tell us a bit about what a coroner’s inquest is, what a public inquiry is, and what the differences and similarities are between the two. So maybe we can start with a coroner’s inquest.

Pamela Cross: They’re really similar, so I’m actually going to talk about the two of them together. They’re very similar, but there are a couple of important differences. Inquests and inquiries are both called to look at terrible things that have happened with an eye to looking to the future. So neither one of them can find criminals liability. In other words, at the end of an inquest or an inquiry, nobody can be charged with a criminal offense because of what the inquest or inquiry found. But what that process can do is lead to recommendations for changes in the future so that the same bad thing doesn’t happen again. Inquests are provincial jurisdiction, so they’re slightly different in every part of the country in terms of how many jurors there are, and some of those kind of procedural matters, but in many ways, they’re the same. So they’re called by the provincial or territorial coroner. There has to have been a death. You can’t have an inquest if nobody has died, so there has to have been a death. Or as is the case in the inquest. Last year in Ontario, there were three deaths that took place, same perpetrator deaths, all happened on the same day. And then the inquest can call. It, has a jury, and the inquest can call witnesses and can request written evidence as well. The jury considers all of that, and then it makes recommendations. Those recommendations are not legally binding, and I think that’s really important for people to remember, even though we were just talking about hope. The fact that those recommendations are not legally binding on anybody. is not a very hopeful thing. Now, inquiries, by comparison, and they used to be called royal commissions. Now they’re called inquiries. So if you think about, the royal commission on this or the royal commission on that, it’s basically the same thing. They’re often federal. They can be provincial, and they can even be municipal, or they can be a combination of all of those things. The mass casualty commission, for example, that was an inquiry or a royal commission. It was a joint federal Nova Scotia inquiry. While there were 22 deaths, obviously, that led to that inquiry being called. There does not have to have been a death for an inquiry to be called. So that’s in some ways the biggest difference between inquests and inquiries. Inquiries are more formal. there isn’t a jury. There are commissioners who are appointed by whoever has called the inquiry. and the process is more formal. It’s more like a courtroom, it’s more like a trial, although it’s still definitely, less structured than that. But compared to an inquest, which can be quite casual, actually, but the same thing at the end, the commissioners can make recommendations. They are also not legally binding. And so if we look at the two that are sort of relevant, most relevant and most recent with respect to violence against women, the inquest in Renfrew county led to 86 recommendations directed at different levels of government and different bodies that have the authority to implement them. We’ve seen very little pickup, but there wasn’t a report. It’s like a verdict. The jury says, here’s our verdict, here’s our recommendations. The inquiry led to a very formal report that is thousands of pages long and many recommendations. Again, the commissioners of that commission don’t have any authority to force anybody to implement their recommendations, but, they sit there and hopefully at least some m of them will be, so I hope that’s helpful. If any of that’s confusing, just ask me a follow up question and I’ll try to clarify it.

Jenna Mayne: Yeah, no, that’s great. Thank you for explaining that. I did have some idea of the difference between the two, but I knew they were so similar, and I find it a little bit confusing to follow, quite honestly. even though I’ve been really interested in following all the cases. So something you said there was interesting to me about how the recommendations are not legally binding. Would you, in an ideal world, think that they should be?

Pamela Cross: I don’t know. That’s a really interesting question to think about. I think that there needs to be some kind of accountability process. So that the government can’t just ignore them or can’t just say we reject them without having to account for why they’re saying that. The thing about an inquest or an inquiry and the recommendations it makes is that they’re made by laypeople. And so they may not all be practically useful or implementable. I don’t know if that’s a word, but anyway, right? So it’s almost like that, here’s what the jury thinks. Now we need a second round of. Let’s take a look at that so we can think about the pros and cons of it. But what’s troubling about the system the way it is now is there’s no requirement that there be a public process to do that. And it’s interesting that both of these proceedings, the Ontario one and the Nova Scotia one, led to recommendations that call for that kind of accountability. So, for instance, coming out of the inquest here in Ontario, one of the recommendations is to establish an implementation committee that would be made up of people from community based experts and government people to go through all of the recommendations and track what’s happening with them. That’s a really helpful idea because it doesn’t just leave it in the hands of the government, which has all of the politics and everything else that goes along with being the government. Right. And we don’t get to know why they’ve rejected a recommendation, unless they decide to tell us. But if we had an implementation committee that had some authority, we’d be able to hold their feet to the fire a little bit better. Doesn’t mean you’d implement every single recommendation, but you at least would know they each had careful consideration.

Jenna Mayne: Yeah, I think that would be so helpful. And especially when there’s so many recommendations. Right? Like 86 is a lot of recommendations. So how do you weed through them? And they’re ordered by importance. But I think, it’s just a lot to get through. So that makes a lot of sense to me. And it’s just been. It’s really been interesting to see. And this is what your, Globe article was about, was to see what’s happened in, the province of Ontario since the Renfrew inquest. I know so many individuals and organizations have been delegating. That’s something we’ve delegated, you know, three or four times this year, to all the different townships and cities around our area in Waterloo region. And it’s been something that we feel is really important. But I wanted to ask you about your thoughts on it, too. Maybe we should just step back a little bit for, everybody who’s listening. I wonder if you could give some context to this and just talk about what’s been happening in Ontario since this inquest and how you’ve seen it unfold.

Pamela Cross: the first recommendation of the 86 was to declare intimate partner violence to be an epidemic. And that recommendation came directly from the jury. What happens over the course of an inquest or an inquiry is that the witnesses often make suggestions. You know, based on my expertise as da da da da da. Ah. I think the jury should recommend that the government do such and such or so and so. and obviously, that’s very helpful to the jury because they’re not experts in the field. They’re people picked at random from the community. So it’s always interesting when the jury also makes up some recommendations of its own, because then, you know, they were really listening and something really bothered them. Right. And so this one is a very grassroots recommendation, and it. It comes about because those five jurors were struck again and again and again over the three weeks of the inquest by how much intimate partner violence there is, how often it seems to go unacknowledged and unchecked. So since the, inquest, the government has said, no, the provincial government, no, we’re not going to make that declaration. But municipalities, often, because of advocacy by women’s organizations, violence against women organizations, municipalities across the province have said, well, we’re going to declare it to be an epidemic, because it is. We’re just looking at the numbers. You know, whether we’re in Toronto or whether we’re in a little tiny town in northern Ontario, the numbers are high. This is an epidemic. And I think that is something that the provincial government should be paying attention to in terms of what the people of its province want. But I think, more importantly, those conversations that are happening, municipality by municipality, that are being picked up by the media because there’s been incredibly good media coverage, they’re achieving the goal of that first recommendation. They’re bringing intimate partner violence out of the shadows. They’re putting it in the public. They’re saying it’s a public health issue. Those declarations, every one of them, is validating for survivors of intimate partner violence, who often feel like they’re the only one this is happening to. They feel isolated. They think it’s their fault. They feel a sense of. Of shame. Well, wait a minute. No, it’s an epidemic. This isn’t my fault. This isn’t about me. So on every level, those declarations are so powerful and important. And, I mean, I could be wrong by today because it seems like the numbers go up on a daily basis. But on Friday, there were 72 municipalities that had made the declaration, which I think is just incredible.

Jenna Mayne: It is incredible. I just thought it’s been amazing to see and to watch, unfold as well. And we can’t keep up. You know, we get called on by the media often. Our CEO, will talk and comment on what’s been happening, and we’ll have to keep looking it up ourselves to see how many have done it now, because every time you google it, it’s another one. And I was getting chills when you were talking, because I just think it’s a really cool thing that we’re seeing happen, and it’s really just amazing to watch.

Pamela Cross: Well, it takes us back to what we were saying a few minutes ago about hope. I think.

Jenna Mayne: I agree. I do. It makes you feel so hopeful because something that has been so covered up and so in the shadows for so long, it’s not just being brought to light once it’s over and over and over again. So I just think that that kind of ripple effect, it’s making waves and it’s going to be interesting to see where it goes. It is.

Pamela Cross: And obviously, at the end of the day, what we want to see are fewer women being abused by their partners. We want to see fewer domestic violence homicides. and we haven’t seen either of those things yet, but I think we’re laying the groundwork with these declarations happening across the province.

Jenna Mayne: Yeah, I think so, too. What exactly would you like to see? Is there anything concrete, ah, that you would like to see come out of this that we haven’t really covered yet?

Pamela Cross: Or do you think in terms of the inquest? I think there are some systems that really need to improve. I don’t think the probation system is working well in Ontario. This case was a particularly dramatic example of that. but it’s not a unique situation where perpetrators of intimate partner violence are released on probation. They fail to meet the terms of their probation order, but nobody really follows up. I think that’s something that has to be looked at very closely. One of the other things we learned in the inquest is that the par programs, the partner assault response programs, don’t work particularly well, because there’s just one program, and whether you’re an 18 year old and you’ve had one situation where you were abusive to your partner, or you’re like the perpetrator in Renfrew county, older person with 40 years of abusing women, you get the same program. So we need to look at those programs. What do they need to offer so that they can be meaningful and helpful to anybody who enters them? They need to be more broadly available and on the survivor side. You know, I hate to always talk about money, but we need to continue to. We, meaning the government, needs to continue to better fund programming for survivors. We need to make sure that women and children can be safe, whether they live in downtown Toronto or in a remote part of the province in the north, whether they can have a police officer at their door in five minutes, or there’s no police officer who’s going to come to the door. We, need our family laws to be more responsive and better understanding of intimate partner violence when courts make orders about who the children spend time with and how parents make decisions. So there’s a lot of system change that we need to see. And really, I. I think of the recommendations coming out of that inquest as a roadmap for those changes. It’s all there. We just have to, as a society, have the commitment and the passion to insist that those changes happen.

Jenna Mayne: Thank you for sharing that. And I agree, it’s interesting to hear you talk about the par programs and their effectiveness, because that’s something we’ve been talking a lot about at our organization, and we just started a new program, working with three men, and it’s an engaging men program. Jude, who runs the program, he feels really passionately about the subject, and he’s actually, a guest on this season of the podcast as well. So it’ll be interesting to hear him talk about it. But he likes to talk a lot about accountability of men, and I know that’s something I’ve read about. You have talked about a lot as well, and I think that’s a key piece of it. You know, I think when we’re talking about engaging men programs and par programs and what we can do better, something I’ve heard our facilitators say, is, you know, you have these brief windows of our opportunity with men, and how can you turn the windows into a doorway? How can you, you know, open up the discussion, and how can you get them to take accountability? Because I think that’s a really big piece of it. I don’t know if you had any thoughts about that, that you wanted to share.

Pamela Cross: Well, I think of two things in response to what you just said. The first is that many of the men who cause harm in their intimate relationships, have been harmed themselves, and they need opportunities to heal from the harm that has been done to them. To be accountable, absolutely. For the harm they have caused, and then to learn new ways of being in the world and being in an intimate relationship. We don’t give men enough opportunities for that. You know, you charge a guy criminally, that doesn’t create any meaningful opportunity for accountability or healing or learning. It’s all about, okay, how can I get out of this charge? How can I get it reduced or have it, you know, thrown out? Oh, I don’t want to have to go to jail. It’s really not about the growth that that person needs to go through. So I think that’s one of the things we have to be thinking about as we consider our response. And that’s not to say that we’re letting them off the hook. You know, real accountability is. Is a very painful process for somebody to go through. But the other thing that. That your comments, made me think about is that. And we heard this from, Malcolm Warmidam, the son of one of the murdered women, on the very first day of the inquest. He said, you know, by the time any of this started to, unroll, even months before the murders, it was too late. The intervention that was needed, needed to come 40 years before. So we need to go back earlier and earlier and earlier. We need to look at children who are in families where they’re being exposed to abuse, whether they’re the direct victim or not. Prevention education has to start early. There’s no age when it’s too young, really, to talk to children about how hard it is to be in an intimate relationship and how they need to work hard to develop the skills, to be able to be a healthy partner, that kind of thing. So the prevention piece, and there’s a lot of recommendations coming from the inquest about that. But also, let’s build programming for men who have already been abusive. That really gives them the opportunity to heal and become different and better men as a result of it.

Jenna Mayne: Yeah, I think that’s so important. I think, again, we’re starting to scratch at the surface and chip at the iceberg and go in the right direction, but I think they’re still so far to go. But it does make me hopeful. Having these conversations and knowing so many people are working on it in different areas. I think it is moving forward. It’s just, a slower place than we might like.

Pamela Cross: well, it’s not surprising, right? Patriarchy has existed since the beginning of time. Violence against women has existed since the beginning of time. It exists across all cultures, all races, all religions, all economic, socioeconomic, groupings of people. So it’s not like there’s a magic wand where we can just quickly go like this and it’s all fixed. We have to, as a society, unlearn centuries and centuries and centuries of, attitudes and behaviors.

Jenna Mayne: Yeah, exactly. And it’s going to take time. That’s not going to happen overnight. That’s a big job. So it’s definitely going to take a while. I know we were talking about the Renfrew inquest, but I’m also aware that you participated in the Nova Scotia mass casualty inquiry as an expert witness on intimate partner violence, and I did want to ask you a bit about what that experience was like.

Pamela Cross: Oh, it was very interesting, for sure. I went almost immediately from the inquest to the inquiry, and it was a bit, I don’t mean to sound flippant when I say this, but it was a bit like going from an off Broadway play to a Broadway play, you know, in Renfrew county. The inquest was very serious matter, but it was small, it was quiet, it was quite informal, and there was a lot of, conviviality among all of the people who were involved. So it wasn’t really rigid, like, you’re representing this person and you’re representing that person. The inquiry was a massive event. It had been going on for a long time before the hearings started in the summer of 2022. The families of the murder victims, many of them, were present. and that added a whole other tone to the proceedings, and it was a much more formal process with the commissioners sitting across the front of the room on a raised stage. there were multiple lawyers, like so many lawyers, representing many different parties, the family members, but also community organizations, different governments, the police, and so on. So it was a much more formal process, but I felt like it was a very effective, way for the commissioners to hear a wide range of information about, like, the part I was there for was the part that was looking at the relationship between, intimate partner violence and mass killings. And so it was very focused for those couple, two to three weeks, and I felt like the process that they used was a very effective one to allow the commissioners to become better informed and better educated about that connection. You know, Canada thankfully hasn’t had a lot of mass killings, and so this is really the first time we’ve had an opportunity to look at that question in this country. The United States, they’ve done a lot of work in this area, but this is relatively new for Canada.

Jenna Mayne: That’s so interesting to hear. And, yeah, it is so cool. I think, obviously, it was a tragedy, but I think it’s also such a unique opportunity we have to shed light on that. So it’s so cool that you were able to be a part of that and talk about that. What did you find? The reaction was from people when you were speaking at that?

Pamela Cross: I don’t know if I can answer that question because it was a very formal process. We were, those of us who were on this panel, I was on a panel, were put in a room away from other people. We were then led into the room, sort of, you know, in a way that kept us separate from the people who were observing. And also, as with the inquest, many people were watching online who, you know, I never had any contact with. I’m sure some of the things that some of us said were not pleasing to the families of the victims. But certainly I did talk with some of my colleagues in Nova Scotia at the end of that day, and I think they found what we had said to be very hopeful, very challenging. And it’s really good to read the report. And you can see how much of what the witnesses said over the course of that period of time has found its way into their report. And I just want to say, I really recommend nobody’s going to read the whole report, probably because it’s extremely long, but people really should read chapter three. It’s long, too. It’s several hundred pages long. But I think it’s the best thing I’ve read, written in this country about intimate partner violence. It’s really, really good reading.

Jenna Mayne: Thanks for sharing that. I’m glad you pointed that out. That could be a good resource for people listening. I do want to go back, and ask you one follow up question to that. You said you thought some of what you said might have been displeasing to the families. I just wondered if you could explain. Explain why.

Pamela Cross: Well, a whole issue arose shortly before the commission, began its hearings with respect to the perpetrator’s common law partner and whether she had any responsibility for his actions that night. And obviously, those of us who work with survivors say she did not whatsoever. She was a victim. She did the best she could to keep herself safe. she didn’t have any idea what he was planning to do that night, and she herself had been severely assaulted by him at the beginning of his, shooting rampage. But I think that hearing that was probably painful for some family members, who I understand they need somebody to blame, and the real perpetrator is dead, but his partner remains. So I think that may have been hard for some of them.

Jenna Mayne: Yeah, that’s understandable. Thank you for sharing that. While we’re talking about this, it’s also just getting me thinking of all the different types of domestic violence and intimate partner violence that there are. And I know we’re talking about physical, violence when we’re talking about cases of femicide, and we’re talking about people who have been physically injured. but there is another type, and it’s course of control that we’ve heard a lot about recently, and there’s been a lot of conversations about whether we should include course of control in the criminal code. And I know you have thoughts on this, and I wanted to ask you, today what those thoughts are.

Pamela Cross: I’m not in favor of criminalizing coercive control. It exists, obviously, it’s a serious kind of abuse. When I was practicing law, it wasn’t the term we used. We tended to think of it as emotional or psychological abuse. But coercive control is a way better term for it because it really names it for what it is. And I had many clients who would say to me, I, wish he would just hit me, because then people would believe that I’m in a bad relationship and I could call the police and he could be charged with assault. So for them, the fact that this kind of abuse wasn’t really understood was very problematic and challenging. So, we absolutely have to deal with it. The family law now has coercive control as part of its definition of family violence. And I think that’s great, because in family court, unlike in criminal court, you can look at the whole history of a relationship. You’re not trying to decide, is this person guilty of having done this specific event on this specific date? You’re looking at, well, what’s the history of this family, and how should that affect where the children live? How much spousal support gets paid? You know, how the property is divided up, all that kind of stuff. Right. And so I was really happy when coercive control made it into the divorce act and Ontario’s children’s law reform act a couple of years ago. But to criminalize it is a really different matter. It isn’t a single episode. You don’t have a coercive control. You have a pattern of coercive control. And that’s not really what the criminal law is designed to respond to. So what makes the pattern? Does it have to happen two times, seven times, 20 times? there’s nothing visible. Often it’s something that only the two people understand. It’s a look that he gives her that she knows. oh. If I don’t toe the line here, there’s going to be a physical consequence, because that’s what’s happened in the past. So how do you explain that to a police officer? Well, when he looks at me a certain way, I’m, frightened. Because in the past, when he looked at me like that, he hit me or smacked me around. So I just think it’s going to be a very difficult offense to make real enough that meaningful charges can be laid. I mean, I also. And we definitely don’t have time to talk about this today, but I have questions about why we’re criminalizing a lot of things related to domestic violence when we should be looking at healing and more restorative or transformative justice models. But I think to, criminalize coercive control is setting women up for disappointment, is creating a context in which those charges could be used against them by a clever abuser who can make it look like, well, she controls me, too. She tells me I have to be home at 10:00 at night. She tells me I have to take out the garbage. And, we’ve seen that happen before, of course, when mandatory charging policies were introduced, where they were intended to protect women, but, in fact, women found themselves being charged. So I just think we need to approach it with a great deal of caution. We should do public education. We should do education of all the players in the criminal system before we make it a law.

Jenna Mayne: Yeah, that makes a lot of sense. And I think public education and prevention are so important, for people’s understanding of what domestic violence and intimate partner violence is and what it even looks like. Because, same as you, I’ve heard women say many times that they. They wish there was physical violence, which is heartbreaking to hear, but you understand it the more you work in it, because the physical violence, it kind of starts and it ends. And that’s what I’ve heard from women, exactly where the course of control, it goes on and on, and it’s. It’s everything about who you are and how you. You act and behave and are able to live your life. So, I’ve heard women say, you know, that was worse for me than the physical violence.

Pamela Cross: Yeah, I’ve talked to a lot of women who say that, and like you, I completely understand it. If somebody can get inside your head and make you feel like you’re a worthless human being, you’re stupid, you’re ugly, you’re crazy. Nobody’s ever going to believe you. Nobody except me would ever want you. How do you recover from that? I don’t think making a criminal charge is what’s going to, ah, switch the light and make everything turn around for her. We need a very different kind of response to it than that.

Jenna Mayne: Yeah, ah, exactly. And I know we’ve talked a bit about prevention and public education, but I also wanted to ask you something. We always ask podcast guests is, how you think we can all be better neighbours to women, children experiencing domestic violence? I’m curious your thoughts.

Pamela Cross: It’s really important, and it’s also really hard. I want to say that right up front. This is the work I do. It’s the only thing I do. I’ve been doing it for a long time, and I still struggle with that. How can I be an intervener rather than a bystander? What if by doing something, I make it worse for her later? Right? Once the front door gets closed and I’m on the other side of it. but I think we have tools. we have a duty to watch out for our neighbour, whether that’s our actual next door neighbour or a work colleague, somebody we go to school with, someone at our religious institution, a cousin, an aunt. We do. We’re citizens of the world, and we should be looking out for one another. The first thing is to make sure that you know a little bit about what services and supports are available in your community so that if that person opens up to you, you’re not sitting there going, oh, gosh, gee, I wish I knew what I could suggest to her. Like, make sure you know that always follow the woman’s lead. You know, say you reach out because you’ve seen or heard something that makes you really uncomfortable, and she says, I don’t want to talk about it. That’s fine, but you know I’m here when you do, right? You don’t push it. You don’t obviously start the conversation when it’s not a safe place to do that. Learn some of the red flags and warning signs, because they’re not all obvious. It’s not just the woman with the black eye or the broken arm that she can’t explain. Neighbours, friends, and families, which I’m sure many of your listeners are familiar with, is a really, really helpful tool. And I do encourage people to have a look at that. we’ve been working with neighbours, friends, and families over the past few months to develop a specific brochure for rural communities because, intimate partner abuse can look quite different. There are different barriers and so on. So that’ll be an added resource to neighbours, friends, and families shortly. Be ready to hear and help. Take your lead from the woman and always be nonjudgmental.

Jenna Mayne: Great. Thank you so much, Pam. It was so great to have you here today and learn from you. I feel like I could talk to you all day, but I know we sadly can’t do that. But thank you so much for being here.

Pamela Cross: Well, thank you for the invitation. Really enjoyed the conversation.

Jenna Mayne: Thank you. Me too.

That wraps up this week’s show, but the conversation is far from over. We want to hear what you think. Use the hashtag sheiyourneighbour on Instagram, TikTok, Facebook, or Twitter, and join in the conversation.

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