A Vernon organization dedicated to helping women escape violence is saddened by the tragic murder of Vernon’s Ashley Wadsworth.
And while the murder of 19-year-old Wadsworth took place overseas in England, Archway Society for Domestic Peace says it’s been observing a “troubling amount of violence” in adolescent dating here at home.
Wadsworth was found dead in a flat in England where she was staying with her boyfriend, Jack Sepple, on Feb. 1. Sepple, 23, has since been charged with her murder.
“Intimate partner homicide is always a tragedy but Ashley being only 19 years old makes this situation even more heartrending,” the society said in a press release. “We want to express our heartfelt condolences to her family and friends.”
There have been wide reports of a spike in domestic violence over the course of the pandemic, and staff at Archway have experienced this concerning trend first-hand. The society says it has also seen a dramatic escalation in the severity of the abuse and the complexity of the cases.
“As an agency we also are seeing a disturbing trend involving adolescent dating violence,” an Archway spokesperson said. “We have programs for children and youth who have experienced domestic violence usually from a family member. However, we have been observing a troubling amount of violence in adolescent dating relationships.”
Archway is currently working with North Okanagan schools to bring its Violence is Preventable presentations into classrooms. The presentations discuss the characteristics of healthy, unhealthy and abusive relationships, the warning signs of dating violence as well as information about consent, sexual assault and other similar topics.
Archway also has programs to support youth who have experienced abuse or sexual assault.
“If you or someone you know is experiencing dating violence please don’t hesitate to call us for confidential information, support, and referrals.”
Formerly the Vernon Women’s Transition House Society, Archway offers free services that can be accessed through its website, archwaysociety.ca.