Research suggests domestic violence more prominent in rural areas of N.B.

Domestic violence is an issue wherever it happens, but new research suggests it may be a particular problem in rural areas of New Brunswick, where victims are running into barriers with the legal system.

CTV Atlantic Published Monday May 30, 2016 7:35PM ADT

A group called Rural Realities conducted a three-year study, talking to survivors of domestic violence and discovering the obstacles in their way.

"They told us things like, ‘Well, his family has belonged here longer than I have, maybe I come from a military family, we move in and out,’” said project co-ordinator Angela Wisniewski.

That stigma has led many to not report the violence, but Rural Realities is hoping that changes.

"What does it mean to call police at two o'clock in the morning?” said Rina Arseneault of the Muriel McQueen Fergusson Foundation for Family Violence. “What's actually happening when you're living 45 minutes away? What does it mean, that distance?"

Forty-eight per cent of New Brunswickers live in rural communities, where there's little traffic and less than 1,000 people per community.

It's also where police response time can be long, and the isolation can feel hopeless.

"If I am in danger, who do I call? Yes, I call the police, but who else do I call, how do I get support right away?” said Arseneault. “If it's the middle of the night, how do I leave that island? I can't leave, so where do I go?"

Arseneault says it took one woman five years to navigate the justice system after her domestic situation happened.

"We need to really build that network,” she said, “and building it so that women survivors don't have to go through this alone."

The report had several recommendations they'll present to police, government and other service providers.

With files from CTV Atlantic’s Laura Brown.