There is a stretch of blocks along Isabel Street in my area of the city that is a high crime area. It goes from Elgin to Logan Avenues.
The city’s crime statistics do not reflect what is happening in this area: 01-Jan-2015 to 14-Jul-2015 – 1 sexual assault, 2 shootings, 20 break and enters in the Centennial neighbourhood.
It is only reported crime that shows up on the map. The area I live in is within that map area.
Residing in the central part of Winnipeg, I often see violence that goes unreported. There is always someone who gets beaten or almost killed on a weekly basis.
On days when cheques come out, there seems to be an increase of violence in the area. It is often said by some of the residents living in the area, that on those days, it is best to stay inside and lock your doors .
During my walk to work very early one morning, I saw a woman standing by the phone across from a coffee shop. What caught my attention was she wasn’t wearing any shoes and she looked upset. I crossed the street to see if she was alright. Then, as I got closer to her, I saw she was covered in blood.
I asked her if she was alright. The woman, who was hanging onto the phone booth to try and remain standing, began to cry.
I tried to flag down someone to help me or to see if there was a police officer in the area.
The woman told me she was scared her attackers were still nearby.
I wanted to get her to safety as quickly as I could. I was worried about the response time if I did phone the police. Would they get there in time, especially if the attackers were nearby?
That had to be the worst feeling in the world. Standing on the corner looking and waving my arms around hoping someone would stop to help us. It was a busy work morning and no one stopped.
I even ran into the coffee shop to try to get help. Nothing. That is like drowning in the lake and there are people with life jackets nearby and no one offers one to you. They just watch you struggle.
I managed to flag down a cab, but the driver wanted cash, not my debit card. I tried to stress to the driver the seriousness of the situation, but he refused and demanded he be paid in cash.
He drove me to the nearest ATM machine down the street. After I got the money the driver had demanded, he drove the woman and I to the emergency room. I did have to pay the driver $20 for the trip, which should have cost under ten dollars.
At the emergency room, the medical staff rushed the beaten woman to the back room after taking her vital signs. The woman wanted me to stay with her until her family arrived.
She shared her horrific story about what happened to her in the early hours. The woman was given a “stomping” by several people.
Her injuries were extensive and severe: several broken ribs, crushed tail bone and a black eye.
After the woman’s family arrived, I left the hospital, to give the family privacy and to head to work.
The woman is in the process of trying to lay charges, but the police have not yet contacted her, either while she was at the hospital or after she came home.
There was no victim services that assisted the woman at the hospital. I have crisis intervention training and First Aid. I asked the nurse if they were going to take any pictures of the injuries. The nurse told me, no pictures would be taken.
I am continuing to keep a close eye on the woman’s progress and to follow up if and when the police are contacted.
I was shaken by the experience, the violence and the cruelty directed at the woman. What even angered me even more was the callus nature of the cab driver, the store clerk at the convenience store where I had to use the ATM , and the people passing by who did nothing to help me or the poor beaten woman.
Living in the high crime area is not the friendliest place to be if one is Indigenous, a woman or not of the privileged financial quo. I saw the ugly side of the city that day.