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Advocates look to declare intimate partner violence an epidemic in Waterloo region


Serena Wesley says she was nine-years-old in 1986 when her mother Roberta Chafe Wesley was killed by her boyfriend.

"My mom's boyfriend, he stabbed her when she was walking out of the bathroom at our apartment,” she told CTV News. “He had murdered her and you know, nobody ever thinks that when you see your parent that's the last time you are going to see them."

Wesley said ever since that day, she’s made it her mission to share her mother’s story and help other women who are experiencing intimate partner violence.

"We just don't have enough resources to get our people help because there's big waiting lists and so long to get them in," she said.

In the face of trauma, Wesley has become an ally to women who are facing intimate partner violence, calling on the Ontario government to tackle the gaps in victim resources on both a local and provincial level.

"Waiting lists are so huge that it's hard for our people to try to walk that path, the healing path," she said.


But Wesley isn’t alone. In the Waterloo region, Women’s Crisis Services is sounding the alarm about a local uptick in the rates of violence during and after the pandemic.

“Around 70 per cent of people who experience violence don’t disclose this so the actual numbers are a lot higher,” said Lillie Proksch, senior communications coordinator for Women’s Crisis Services of Waterloo Region (WCSWR). "On average we're getting about 2400 calls to our support lines and online chats so we are definitely seeing a lot of domestic violence in the region"


New numbers from the Ontario Association of Interval and Transition Houses show there was an average of one femicide every week over the last thirty weeks. That matches the rate the organization reported in 2022 when there were 52 deaths over 52 weeks.

There are 30 municipalities across Ontario that have declared intimate partner violence an epidemic.

Women’s Crisis Services of Waterloo Region said it's time for the Region of Waterloo to do the same.

The organization said it's disappointing the province didn't answer a similar call, following an inquest last year into the murders of three women.

"The Ontario government decided to not declare intimate partner violence an epidemic so that was really disappointing for us to hear but we've seen a lot of regions declare intimate partner violence an epidemic so that's been really hopeful,” Proksch said. “We're really hoping more regions will get on trend with this for sure.”

The WCSWR said declaring intimate partner violence an epidemic in the region would mean more of an increased awareness around the issue and could result in more funding on different levels of government.


Waterloo Regional Police Services told CTV News they receive approximately 17 calls related to intimate partner violence per day.


  • 6,146 intimate partner violence calls in 2020
  • 6,175 calls in 2021
  • 6,158 calls in 2022


  • 3,950 intimate partner violence charges in 2020
  • 3,769 charges in 2021
  • 4,045 charges in 2022


For more information on intimate partner violence and how to report it in Waterloo region visit the Waterloo Regional Police Service’s (WRPS) website.


Police non-emergency: 519-570-9777

Women’s Crisis Service of Waterloo Region (non-police): 519-742-5894

Anselma House (Kitchener – Waterloo) Crisis: 519-742-5894

Haven House (Cambridge) Crisis: 519-653-2422


Guelph Police non-emergency: 519-824-1212

Victims Services Wellington: 519-824-1212 EXT 7304

Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence Care are Treatment Centre GGH:

519-837-6440 ex 2728 Top Stories

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