Justice for Domestic Abuse Victim Who Was Jailed and Mistreated Behind Bars

Target: Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Canadian Prime Minister

Goal: End the issuing of arrest warrants for domestic abuse victims who fail to testify against offenders.

A domestic abuse victim in Canada was arrested after failing to testify in court. Behind bars, she was manhandled, restrained, and charged with assaulting a police officer. Her mistreatment is why millions of domestic violence survivors fail to report their abuse to law enforcement.

In Canada, law enforcement is allowed to issue an arrest warrant against complainants who refuse or are unwilling to testify. It is this rule that prompted police to arrest Serrece Winter, a woman of color and indigenous descent in Nova Scotia. According to reports, she was shouted at, grabbed and pushed around her cell, and then confined to a restraint chair. Video of her mistreatment went viral and prompted women’s rights groups across Canada and the world to demand justice.

The effects of turning the victim into the criminal are dangerous. Shiva Nourpanah, provincial co-ordinator of the Transition House Association of Nova Scotia, says victims may start to think, “Oh my God, what will happen if I call the police? What will happen if I’m called to testify? You know, maybe it’s just easier to live with [the abuse] and deal with it.” Demand an end to regulations that allow police to arrest domestic violence victims to ensure no man or woman suffers in silence.


Dear Prime Minister Trudeau,

Domestic violence victims across Canada live in fear of asking for help. If they do, they themselves face the prospect of being arrested if they refuse to testify against those that cause them traumatic harm. Instead of helping victims, these rules put them in even greater danger and force them to suffer in silence.

After the horrific mistreatment of Serrece Winters, it is clear that this law must change. I ask that you work with local governments to make it illegal to arrest domestic abuse victims. They are not the ones who belong behind bars.


[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: oregondepartmentoftransportion


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