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Funding for Community Services to Support Sentencing Options for Men Convicted of Domestic Abuse - 2017

Resolution Number:100.41.39

BACKGROUND: It has been reported in the press that “less than half of complaints made to police result in criminal charges and, of those charges, only about one in four leads to a guilty verdict” (Makin, 2013, para 6). Judges are loathed to provide long sentences in jail for males who are involved in spousal abuse even though they have a wide discretion from six months and a fine to 25 years depending on the severity of the abuse (Vancouver Rape Relief & Women’s Shelter, 2010). In 2009 it was reported that the average sentence for sexual assault was 360 days (Sexual Assault Centre of Edmonton, 2009). Only 64% of women who experience sexual assaults are likely to report the incidence to police (Statistics Canada, 2016). Significant efforts have been funded to support women and children who have experienced sexual or domestic abuse. However, less attention has been made to assist those men who are the perpetrators of this abuse to change their behaviors.
Men’s abusive behaviours are often socialized by their previous experiences during childhood and often from observing similar behaviours in their families. This behaviour impacts women who are in these intimate partner abusive situations and their children who witness or are also recipients of this abuse as well the policing, community service agencies dealing the intimate partner violence, and the courts having to hear the charges against men charged in these situations. Seeking greater sentencing in jails does not seem to resolve their maladaptive behaviours. An alternate solution is the use of treatment courts to change abusive behaviour (Dutton, 2008).
Providing treatment options for men who are convicted of domestic abuse requires a strong partnership with agencies who are able to provide programs addressing men’s: low self-esteem, depression, anger management, need to control others, belief in strict gender roles, poor parenting in childhood, low income or unemployment, high substance abuse, and emotional insecurity of dependence (, nd.). In London, Ontario there is a non-profit organization, Changing Ways (2009) that focuses its work on helping men end violence against women. Their mission states “exists to eliminate men’s abusive and violent behaviours against women and children, and to eliminate other forms of gender-based violence intimate relationships” (Changing Ways, 2009a, para 1).
Thus, an alternative approach for dealing with domestic abuse is to focus on changing the conditions that cause men to abuse women or using an up-stream approach rather than treating women only following being abused. This approach would be through the use of 'treatment courts’. This model has been implemented and evaluated in Ontario and other locations for treating drug addiction using an emphasis on treatment versus incarceration for those who have drug addictions and pay for these habits through thefts and other crimes. A judge involved in these courts has the option of considering treatment sentencing versus jail and requires a strong partnership with agencies who are able to meet the conditions set out in the judge’ sentencing and could be modeled on the Drug Treatment Courts (Toronto Drug Treatment Court, n.d.).

Has BPW ever focused resolution previously on this topic? No previous resolutions were found directly addressing this approach to address women’s abuse.
REFERENCES: Changing Ways. (2009). Retrieved from
Changing Ways. (2009a). Our mission. Retrieved from http://
Dutton, D.G. (2008). Witnessing parental violence as a traumatic experience shaping the
abusive personality. Journal of Aggression, Maltreatment & Trauma, 3(1), 59-67. Retrieved from (n.d.). Why do people abuse their partners? Retrieved from
Makin, K. (2013, October 5). How Canada’s sex-assault laws violate rape victims. The Globe
and Mail. Retrieved from
Sexual Assault Centre of Edmonton. (2009). Sentencing in Canada. Retrieved from
Statistic Canada. (2016). Family violence in Canada: A statistical profile, 2014. Ottawa: Author.
Retrieved from
Toronto Drug Treatment Court. (n.d.). Treatment. Retrieved from
Vancouver Rape Relief & Women’s Shelter. (2010). What kinds of penalties does sexual assault
carry if someone is found guilty? Retrieved from

RESOLUTION: THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED THAT BPW Ontario urges the government of Ontario, specifically the Minister of Community & Social Services and the Minister of Community Safety & Correctional Services in Ontario to provide funding support to organizations such as Changing Ways and its partnering organizations whose mandates focus on helping men address their negative behaviours leading to abuse (a five year pilot period to ensure resources are available to ensure that the use of a London, Ontario funded treatment court is able to provide treatment options to those men who are convicted of domestic abuse);

FURTHER BE IT RESOLVED THAT BPW Ontario urges Government of Ontario, specifically the Minister of Community & Social Services and the Minister of Community Safety & Correctional Services to carry out a robust evaluation to ensure the programs are successful and the impact of the Domestic Abuse Treatment Court Program outcomes on reducing the incidences of domestic violence on women and children.


©BPW Ontario

Article ID: 4380

Welcome to BPW Ontario's Resolutions Database. Questions, contact Laura Noble.