International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women

Victims Become Survivors Every Day

November 25th marks the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women

In the privacy of homes across British Columbia. The home is supposed to be safe. Every day, thousands of women in BC experience intimate partner, domestic and sexual violence in the privacy of their homes.

A call to BWSS Crisis Line is a lifeline where a victim can get:

A safety plan that is responsive to the unique dimensions of their experience of abuse and their lifestyle.

A dedicated Support Worker

Police and/or Hospital Accompaniment

Access to Safe Temporary Housing

Support Groups – in person or virtual

Housing Advocacy – there is a housing crisis after all

Employment and Training Programs

Access to Child Care

Services offered in numerous in languages (Spanish, Cantonese, Mandarin, Farsi, Punjabi, Hindi, Vietnamese, Arabic, Tagalog, Russian, Portuguese, Urdu, Pidgin, Finnish, Japanese, Ukrainian, French and English)

A warm referral to a community-based organization outside of Metro Vancouver in rural BC

The International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women is a reminder that BWSS exists to end violence against women and gender-based violence.

BWSS Crisis Line is a first response for thousands of victims in BC every year.

With your steadfast support, with your big-hearted donations, in tandem with our 24/7 crisis line, we stay on the frontline.

And victims become survivors every day.

Launching “Colour of Violence: Race, Gender & Anti-Violence Services”

Webinar Launching “Colour of Violence: Race, Gender & Anti-Violence Services”

Launching “Colour of Violence: Race, Gender & Anti-Violence Services”

Battered Women’s Support Services is thrilled to announce the launch of Colour of Violence: Race, Gender & Anti-Violence Services.

Over the past year, BWSS has been engaged in a community-based research project to better understand and raise awareness on the experiences of Indigenous, Black, newcomer immigrant/refugee, and racialized survivors accessing gender-based violence services in British Columbia (B.C). You can read more about this report below.

As part of the #16DaysofActivism Against Gender-Based Violence, all are welcome to our two public launch events for this important report. Please register and spread the word!

Wednesday November 30, 2022

Online Webinar @ 11 am – 1 pm PST / 2 pm – 4 pm EST. With ASL interpretation.

Paulette Senior: CEO and President, Canadian Women’s Foundation

Leslie Spillett: Cree/Metis community kohkum and organizer, Ongomiizwin Indigenous Institute of Health and Healing

Summer Rain: Manager of Direct Services and Indigenous Women’s Program, Battered Women’s Support Services

Angela Marie MacDougall and Harsha Walia, co-authors of BWSS’s “Colour of Violence: Race, Gender & Anti-Violence Services” report

Community Gathering Launching “Colour of Violence: Race, Gender & Anti-Violence Services”

Tuesday December 6, 2022

National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women

📍 An in-person community gathering from 6 – 8 pm PST at 312 Main Street, Vancouver.

📍 ASL interpretation. Food and refreshments. We urge attendees to wear masks and maintain social distancing.

Hosted by Melody Wise (she/they): co-author of BWSS’s “Colour of Violence: Race, Gender & Anti-Violence Services” report

& Featuring a LINE UP YOU WON’T WANT TO MISS: Deanna George │ Cecilia Point │ Deborah Baker │ Rosa Elena Arteaga (she/her) │ Wildflower Women of Turtle Island Drum Group │ Jillian Christmas │ Butterflies in Spirit with JB the First Lady │ Rabbit Richards │ Zephyr Walters (they/she/he) │ Mercedes Eng (she/her)

More about Colour of Violence: Race, Gender & Anti-Violence Services

Our Colour of Violence: Race, Gender & Anti-Violence Services report places racialized survivors at the center of anti-violence work.


“Understand that racism exists, and survivors experience it.”

– Colour of Violence survey respondent


Our report explores the extent to which gender and race influence system-based responses to gender-based violence.

Racialized survivors are not only subject to higher probabilities of gender-based violence, but also face structural barriers in accessing safety and support from violence. We conducted surveys with over 100 survivors, hosted focus groups with anti-violence workers of colour, and organized a series of public events. Through an anti-racist, decolonial, and intersectional feminist lens, we analyze the structural relationship of multiple forms of inequality constituted through and reinforcing one another.


“The services available don’t primarily serve Black, Indigenous or racialized people.”

– Colour of Violence survey respondent


We found that Indigenous, Black, newcomer immigrant/refugee, and racialized survivors in B.C face numerous barriers to accessing safety and support when they experience gender-based violence, such as lack of access to culturally safe services; mistrust of the legal system and other state systems; and being minimized or disbelieved.


“I felt unwelcome, unheard, and unable to connect. I felt like the totality of my experiences were too complex to pull apart and deal with.”

– Colour of Violence survey respondent


Indigenous, Black, and newcomer immigrant/refugee survivors face particularly heightened barriers to justice, including often being criminalized for reporting violence, having their children apprehended, or facing deportation.


“It felt like being prosecuted all over again; if the police were contacted, your situation was reported to child protection services.”

– Colour of Violence survey respondent


Our report identifies key barriers in accessing anti-violence services, and it also offers concrete best practices for service providers developing anti-violence interventions.

The report and our accompanying toolkit are intended to be used as catalysts for positive change to increase access, safety, and justice for Indigenous, Black, newcomer immigrant/refugee, and racialized survivors in this province.

This work is motivated by the urgency of our moment and the many overlapping crises for racialized survivors. We are deeply grateful to all the participants who brilliantly and courageously shared their time and insights with us. We hope you join us in honouring their strength and in amplifying their truth-telling toward action.

You can learn more about your research project and key findings here, and we look forward to seeing you at our upcoming launch events!

I know a girl

We often consider violence in adult or college age relationships, and we don’t consider youth 15 and under.

Back to school is an opportunity to highlight violence against girls and the actions we can take to support girls.


1 in 3 youth (grade 9-10) report adolescent dating violence in Canada. The rates of violence are highest amongst marginalized youth, particularly those living in poverty, youth who identify as non-binary, racialized youth and new Canadian youth.


636,000 self-reported incidents of sexual assault every year in Canada. Of those self-reported sexual assaults, 47% were committed against young women & girls aged 15 – 24.


Young women between the ages of 15 and 19 experience ten times more violence in relationships than young men, according to police-reported cases. This type of abuse is perpetrated by current or former boyfriends and girlfriends as well as in “other” intimate relationships

This poem and video is the successful result of the Youth in Philanthropy initiative taking place in schools in Metro Vancouver.

Zephyr and their classmates submitted the poem and video to a contest to raise funds for local charities. Their successful submission resulted in $5000 for BWSS.


I know a girl
Who flinches at high fives
She thinks that she’s a punching bag
With fight or flight, she freezes
A beating is easier when you give in


I know a girl
Who lives her life on high alert
If she makes a mistake, she is hurt
She is always on guard
Because he can always do something worse


I know a girl
Who watches her back
like her favourite TV show
Her eyes are glued to anything that moves
Bruises are mysterious,
but she hopes someone notices
Even if they did,
the world is not stronger than he is


I know a girl
Whose favourite colour used to be purple
She wore lavender and violet as symbols of joy
Until her face was splattered
with her favourite colour
And all the love she felt was destroyed


I know a girl
Whose thoughts are still controlled by him
She defends him because he owns her
How do you hate your own father?
When you’re scared the apple
doesn’t fall far from the tree


I know a girl
That is cut by his name
Vowels shoot like bullets in her brain
Each syllable reminds her what he did to her
He will never die when his actions still consume her mind


I know a girl
Whose been told to get over it so many times
She’s starting to believe she’s too emotional, she thinks her pain is whines


I know a girl
Who feels his hands like they’re still there
Burn marks in her skin that never seem to heal


I know a girl
Whose safety was never a right, it was a gift
Her body was never a right, it was a gift


I know a girl
That listens to manipulation like music
She’s spent so long being a victim she says it like her name


I am a girl
Who’s scared of everyone
that has the power to hurt me
My boyfriend is sweet, and he would never
But the expectation that the men before him built up is taller than he is

Trigger Warning: This video is a powerful poem that describes violence against a girl.

Need help now?

You are not alone. You have options.

Our Safety Changes Everything team are available 24/7 by phone or text to discuss your situation and help create a personalized safety plan that’s right for you.

Call 24/7 toll free 1-855-687-1868

Text 604-652-1867

Towards a Violence-Free Canada

BWSS supports the Standing Committee on the Status of Women Report: “Towards a Violence-Free Canada”

BWSS supports the Standing Committee on the Status of Women Report: “Towards a Violence-Free Canada”

The House of Commons Standing Committee on the Status of Women has released a new report, “Towards a Violence-Free Canada: Addressing and Eliminating Intimate Partner and Family Violence”, which calls attention to the reality of intimate partner violence (IPV) and family violence in Canada.

Presented to the House of Commons on Friday, June 17th, 2022, the Report argues that the causes and consequences of IPV and family violence in Canada are poorly understood and ineffectively addressed. “Towards a Violence-Free Canada” stresses the importance of responding to the root causes of IPV and family violence, and working broadly amongst jurisdictions and institutions to prevent, address, and redress intimate partner and family violence.

Between February and April 2022, the Standing Committee on the Status of Women heard from 74 witnesses and received 137 written briefs.

BWSS participated in this process as a witness, and took the opportunity to highlight the unique issues faced by Indigenous, Black, and racialized survivors of intimate partner and gender-based violence.

The testimony of our Executive Director Angela Marie MacDougall is cited in the report, including Angela’s important testimony that IPV takes place in “a social context and within a world view that systemically reinforces the power of some people to oppress others,” and that “it is important to understand that racism exists and survivors experience it including when trying to access IPV services.”

The “Towards a Violence-Free Canada” report summarizes all the testimony, and offers 28 comprehensive recommendations.

The Standing Committee on the Status of Women heard that intimate partner violence is widespread in Canada. The Committee notes that “44% of women, representing approximately 6.2 million people, will experience some form of IPV in their lifetime.” Intimate partner and family violence affects women and gender-diverse people who embody a variety of intersecting identities, such as those living with disabilities, seniors, teens and youth, immigrant, refugee, Indigenous and other racialized people, among others. “Towards a Violence-Free Canada” highlights that the consequences of intimate partner and family violence are far-reaching, including “significant negative mental and physical health consequences, and in extreme cases the consequences can be deadly. In addition, IPV and family violence can contribute to other negative effects such as poverty and homelessness.”

The report also highlights that survivors face numerous barriers to accessing anti-violence services: “These challenges include a lack of available shelter spaces and other services, economic insecurity, living in rural and remote geographic locations, lack of public transportation, and a reluctance to report or seek help from authorities. Some survivors with intersecting identities, like survivors who are immigrants, Indigenous individuals, or survivors with disabilities, may face additional barriers in accessing services. Witnesses said that survivors need services that meet their needs and that are trauma-informed.”

BWSS supports the Committee’s calls for trauma-informed, long-term solutions to address the problems of intimate partner and family violence in Canada. We also agree that these approaches must be community oriented, culturally sensitive, and implemented with the needs of the most marginalized survivors in mind.


What is the Standing Committee on the Status of Women?

The Standing Committee on the Status of Women was created by the House of Commons in 2004 to study “issues related to the status of women and to gender equality.”

Comprised of members from the Conservative, Liberal, NDP and Bloc Québécois parties, the Committee has recently produced numerous studies and reports including “Bill C233- An Act to amend the Criminal Code and the Judges Act (violence against an intimate partner)”, “Women’s Unpaid Work in Canada”, “Midwifery Services across Canada”, and “Impacts of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Women”.

Each report is presented to the government and a comprehensive response is requested by Committee members. The government has not yet released a response to “Towards a Violence-Free Canada”.


What Else does the “Towards a Violence-Free Canada” Report Say?

The report opens with an overview of intimate partner and family violence in Canada, including causes and effects, and the need to improve data collection to better understand the impacts of intimate partner and family violence, particularly on racialized women.

“Towards a Violence-Free Canada” also looks at the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on intimate partner and family violence in Canada. BWSS recently released a report Road to Safety: Indigenous Survivors in BC Speak Out against Intimate Partner Violence during the COVID-19 Pandemic highlighting the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the IPV experiences of Indigenous women in BC, which you can read here.

The second section of the report looks at services related to intimate partner and family violence and emphasizes the need to ensure the economic stability and security of survivors. “Towards a Violence- Free Canada” explores the issue of financial abuse, which the Committee identifies as a primary factor preventing women and gender-diverse people from fleeing intimate partner and family violence.

Next, the report provides an overview of barriers survivors experience when accessing supports and services and identifies that inadequate funding for organizations supporting survivors as a barrier in Canada, in addition to a lack of transportation options and anti-violence services for rural and remote communities.

“Towards a Violence-Free Canada” details experiences of survivors belonging to specific groups, in particular Indigenous, racialized, and immigrant women, and those living with disabilities. For racialized survivors of intimate partner and family violence, racism can present a significant barrier to accessing services and fleeing IPV.

Notably, “Towards a Violence-Free Canada” asserts that witnesses shared numerous examples of how the justice system “fails to protect survivors of IPV”. Witnesses also described how “perpetrators of violence use the justice system to continue to exercise control over their victims.” The Committee identifies that professionals within law enforcement and the legal system can possess limited understanding of intimate partner violence, and that ongoing professional development opportunities must be made available to lawyers, judges, and law enforcement personnel so that they can protect, rather than cause further harm to IPV survivors. “Towards a Violence-Free Canada” also explores the potential for intimate partner and family violence specific courts and alternative and restorative approaches to justice.

Finally, the report explores the need to prevent intimate partner violence by raising awareness, particularly amongst newcomers to Canada, educating young Canadians on healthy relationships, and engaging men and boys to end intimate partner and family violence. This section also reinforces the need to implement the Calls for Justice from the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls.


What Are the Report Recommendations?

Report recommendations centered around 7 major themes: research, funding allocation, program and policy development, police and the legal system, direct service provision, awareness, and the development and implementation of the National Action Plan.

The report identifies numerous research focuses that need to be prioritized by the government, including the need for research into the prevalence of traumatic brain injuries amongst survivors of IPV, understanding teen dating and IPV, financial abuse as a form of IPV, as well as how experiencing abuse in childhood affects relationships later in life. The report also stressed the need for additional capacity development for data collection, including for disaggregated data on IPV experiences of racialized folks and gender diverse folks. At the provincial level, BWSS has been advocating for disaggregated race-based data collection and we led engagement sessions on B.C’s anti-racism data legislation.

A significant focus of the report’s recommendations is in regards to program and policy development to address a variety of issues associated with intimate partner and family violence, including support for children who have witnessed violence, sexual assault policies and services in post-secondary organizations, the need to work with financial institutions to develop a federal system designed to detect financial abuse, the development of a comprehensive strategy to address financial and economic abuse, support programs for men who have committed violence, and development of educational programming about consent and healthy relationships for youth.

The report recommendations emphasized the need for change within the legal system and law enforcement in Canada. “Towards a Violence-Free Canada” recommends exploring the feasibility of implementing Clare’s Law nation-wide, as well as the need for increased funding for organizations providing legal services to survivors of intimate partner and family violence. The report encourages police services to develop victim-centric practices and recommends judicial education on the issues of coercive control and financial abuse.

A major focus of the report recommendations involves the need to improve direct services to women and gender diverse people experiencing intimate partner and family violence. Survivors, especially Indigenous women, require more and better housing options, and newcomers and those with precarious immigration status require IPV services that are specific to their distinct needs. Reducing poverty and ensuring financial security for those leaving situations of violence was also identified as important, and it was noted that older women and those living with disabilities require additional IPV support.

“Towards a Violence-Free Canada” corroborates what BWSS has been saying for years: that intimate partner violence and gender-based violence are systemic, that anti-violence services are underfunded and that ensuring the safety of IPV survivors requires sustained, meaningful commitment from government.

Now that the government has heard from its own representatives that the problem of intimate partner and gender-based violence in Canada requires immediate action, we urge the government to respond to this report without further hesitation by implementing all recommendations, and by continuing to develop and implement the National Action Plan on Violence Against Women and Gender-Based Violence.

At BWSS, we continue to support survivors and we stay on the front lines resisting gender-based violence because we know that safety changes everything.  

CBC interviews Angela Marie MacDougall regarding Win Butler

CBC interviews Angela Marie MacDougall
Our Executive Director, Angela Marie MacDougall, was on CBC’s On The Coast with Gloria Macarenko this past August 29, 2022.

Angela was interviewed about recent accusations of sexual misconduct against Arcade Fire front man Win Butler has been by 4 people and the response by fans calling for the band to cancel their world tour.

Full CBC interview transcript:

Gloria: Now Canadian band Arcade Fire is set to begin their world tour tomorrow in Dublin, Ireland, but there are some fans across the world that are calling for that tour to be canceled and for their tickets to be refunded. That is after news broke this weekend, that front man, Win Butler, is accused of sexual misconduct by multiple people. This story was first reported by Pitchfork Magazine, and it follows a number of stories this year involving Canadian celebrities and allegations of sexual violence. So for more, we have reached Angela Marie McDougall. She is executive director of battered women’s support services. Angela Marie, hi there. Good afternoon.

Angela Marie Dougall: Good afternoon, Gloria.

Gloria: Where does your mind go first, when you hear about these kinds of stories?

Angela Marie Dougall: Well, we’ve had quite a few very high profile cases of celebrities and sports stars who have been where survivors have come forward and shared their experiences, experiences of sexualized violence. And I think that it’s always a challenging piece because within media and the social media kind of platform environment, we end up having a very polarized discourse ranging in extremes, frankly, in terms of how people are responding to the cases. I’m not surprised actually that we continue to hear reports of sexualized violence by celebrities. In part, because we hear so many reports of sexualized allegations, from non celebrities, who of that survivors discuss and want to share their experiences and also seek a measure of justice. I think it speaks to the culture right now. Of course, we’re still in a journey within Me Too. We still haven’t addressed more broadly the systemic and institutional and the deep roots of sexualized violence in Canada. And this is another opportunity for us to do that.

Gloria: Well, you bring up something interesting there. I mean, this story broke over the weekend. No charges have been laid against Win Butler. We don’t know if any police investigation will take place when Butler, he has denied the allegations, but even so longtime fans, people who say Arcade Fire’s music has deeply impacted their lives. Many of them have immediately turned around and they say, no, they don’t want to go to the upcoming show. So I guess, how do you interpret that immediate response?

Angela Marie Dougall: I think it’s many things, but one part of it has to do, I believe with an idea of a community response. I think that there is a recognition that so many of these instances of sexualized violence don’t end up being measured within a criminal legal system response because of the ways in which this kind of sex life violence happens between individuals. So I think that we’re continue to have the court of public opinion, which I’ve said it long, long ago when we were talking about other celebrities, Harvey Weinstein, for example, Bill Cosby. I said the court of public opinion in the context of sexualized violence is a court. And it’s been an important part of a cultural shift. And we’re in the middle of that right now. I know that people don’t necessarily want to hear that, but it’s the result of survivors coming forward and the general public seeking a measure of justice. And so I think what fans are saying is yes, that you’ve meant a lot to me in my life. And we want you to be accountable for these allegations. And I think that’s a reasonable response in light of the very few mechanisms that we have right now to really address sexualized violence.

Gloria: So you’re signaling a little bit of a cultural change on that front. Now, one of the allegations laid out in the article, it revolves around non-consensual sexting. It says that when Butler was sending pictures of his genitals to an 18 year old fan who asked him to stop. So what does this tell you about how our understanding of consent could be evolving?

Angela Marie Dougall: Well, all too many women and people who have been on the receiving end of an unsolicited pic of a man’s genitalia will say that it’s fairly commonplace. It’s inappropriate. We haven’t actually that the issue of consent with respect to sexing and sharing images and the sharing of genitalia in terms of men sending dick pics is something that I think is an important part of the cultural shift. We talk to survivors all the time. There’s so many women and others that I know that have been on the receiving end of an unsolicited pic. So that is a piece of consent and it is within the scope of sexualized violence. Most definitely, it’s on that continuum and it needs to be another piece of this reckoning and a recognition that sharing of sexual images, images of nudity of body parts needs to be agreed to.

Angela Marie Dougall: And there’s all kinds of learning that we have now. In fact, our website has a long list of ways in which to sext in a way that’s safe and that includes consent. But if we understand the context of sexualized violence, it is about power and control. And so the sharing of unsolicited picture of genitalia is a piece of a boundary violation in the context of power and control. And so I think that this is an important, another piece of a very important conversation that we’ve been having for recent times. And we’re getting at some of the deep ways in which it manifests for those celebrities, but also we see it certainly with just everyday people.

Gloria: Again, when Butler’s response to these allegations, he says that no non-consensual activity occurred. He does admit to knowing and having sexual contact with the four people who alleged misconduct. His statement also says he was drinking a lot at the time to deal with the pain of his wife’s miscarriage and that he has “long struggled with mental health issues and the ghosts of childhood abuse.” So that’s when Butler’s response, what do you make of that bearing in mind, he has hired a crisis communications team here?

Angela Marie Dougall: Well, and of course he would, I mean, the public relations ends up being a big piece of this. And we then want to blur the blurred and kind of muddy the water if you will, and start to bring in our social problems, the personal problems that he has, his histories. But at the end of the day, we come down to some very clear social contracts that we understand and that I think are understood and sexualized violence is it stands above and beyond what I think these personal issues are. And though they may have been part of the context, the sharing, the allegations that I’ve read in the report that you mentioned at the top, Gloria, are part of, again, a bigger, broader discussion, and we cannot get misled, I think, by whatever his personal issues were at the time and get back at the heart, which is around the power and control and that we actually want to continue to believe survivors. And that we know that for those survivors that have come out and shared their experiences, this is not an easy thing at all to go to make visible your experiences, especially when we’re talking about celebrities, because of how much backlash there is in media and social media.

Gloria: Angela Marie, before we let you go. And we do have to wrap things up here, but how do you hope to see the media coverage of these stories evolve?

Angela Marie Dougall: So this is a bigger, I love this question. And it’s something that I think is really important. I mean, obviously we don’t want the sensationalize of it. We have to begin to continue to recognize that and put it in the context of Me Too, and that we are in a cultural shift and it’s going to continue. And there’s some really great resources that I know that have been created that are about using the right words and understanding the context. And I think that, of course, I appreciate any time that organizations that are doing the frontline work, get a chance to weigh in as well.

Gloria: Hey, thank you very much. I’m sure this story will evolve from here, but we appreciate your time today.

Angela Marie Dougall: Thank you, Gloria. All the best to you.