November is Women Abuse Prevention month

Linda  Armstrong

By Linda Armstrong

November is Women Abuse Prevention month in Ontario. It would be wonderful if we no longer had to devote a month, a week or even a day to bringing awareness of gender based crimes. And I personally hold out hope that the day will come when we no longer have to do so. Statistically though we know that we are a far cry away from that day.

Defined, woman abuse is the intentional and regular use of tactics to establish and maintain power and control over the thoughts, beliefs and behavior of a woman by creating fear and/or dependency. All forms of abuse result in the woman losing some if not all dignity, control, safety and personal power. Abused women change their behaviour, preferences and/or choices because they fear the consequences or retaliation of their abusive partner.

Domestic violence is consistently identified as one of the most common forms of violence against women in Canada. Anyone can be a victim of domestic violence, whatever their age, race, economic status, religion, sexual orientation, or education. While men can be victims of domestic violence, women represent the overwhelming majority of victims of such violence. Intimate relationships include those between the opposite-sex and same-sex partners.

Everyone has the right to live in safety and with dignity, free from intimidation and the threat of violence. However, one in five women experience some form of abuse in their intimate relationship; eighty-three percent of victims in spousal violence are women; on average a women is killed every six days in Canada, by her partner; and across Canada 3000 women along with 2900 dependent children are living in emergency shelters to escape abuse.

One of the questions I hear most often is, how can I help? First and foremost it is important that we believe the victims/survivors when they come forward. Let them know that they did not cause the abuse. Be supportive, even if you don’t understand why the person doesn’t leave, or does leave but then goes back.

On a larger scale we can raise our voices and direct them to the powers that be. Those in a position of government and justice. They are the ones who can help women to be economically independent; to change the way family courts handle cases involving domestic violence; to increase funding for support services; and to make penalties for domestic violence consistent and firm. Change can happen, and we all need to play a part in making it so.

By Linda Armstrong, Coordinator and Public Educator for the Oxford Domestic Assault Review Team

If someone is in immediate danger, call 911 or the emergency number in your community.

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