Safety Resource Card: Connecting Survivors of Violence to Support

PRESS RELEASE
For immediate release
July 26, 2018

Connecting Survivors of Violence to Support

An updated, comprehensive, and easy to understand guide to finding help for survivors of violence.

Vancouver, B.C. —Since its initial launch in March 2006, tens of thousands of copies of The Safety Resource Card have been shared throughout Metro Vancouver. The first of its kind, the Safety Resource Card contains dozens of useful phone numbers.

Battered Women’s Support Services (BWSS) is pleased to announce the update of the card, to include updated phone numbers and information including the updated operating hours of BWSS, now including Saturdays from 10am to 5pm. The card also includes other emergency/crisis numbers, transition house numbers and specific support services in the Downtown Eastside.

Fifty percent of women in Canada have experienced some form of physical or sexual violence. On average, a woman is murdered by her intimate partner every week in Canada.

“Gender-based violence in all forms — sexual harassment, sexual violence, physical abuse and femicide is truly an epidemic in Canada –there is no time to waste”, says BWSS Executive Director Angela Marie MacDougall “The Safety Resource Card provides survivors of violence with direct contact to essential services in Metro Vancouver, including BWSS, that can be life-saving”.

The Safety Resource Card folds up to the size of a business card so that women using the card may do so discreetly and without fear of its being discovered by an abusive partner.

The Safety Resource Guides are available to the community and those interested in obtaining the free card please call 778-558-7179 or email communityengagement@bwss.org

For almost 40 years, Battered Women’s Support Services has worked towards women’s liberation through education, advocacy, support services, and systemic and social change to assist all women in its aim to work towards the elimination of violence.

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Media enquiries:
Angela Marie MacDougall, Battered Women’s Support Services
Executive Director
Cell:  604-808-0507
Email:  director@bwss.org

Safety Resource Card by BWSS

Safety Resource Card

BWSS Launches #SomeMenBreakMoreThanHearts for World Health Day 2018

1 in 5 women make their first disclosure of violence in an intimate relationship to their general practitioner.

In B.C., an average of 232 women per year are admitted to a B.C. hospital for severe injuries from intimate partner violence.

BWSS initiative #SomeMenBreakMoreThanHearts is designed to raise awareness of violence against women in intimate relationships, and provide resource kit to family physicians throughout B.C. to help doctors better identify and respond to women who may be experiencing violence in her intimate relationship. Because violence against women is a health issue.

Download the poster  

 

Download the Resource Kit for General Practitioners

Media Release

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

April 5, 2018

Launching World Health Day April 7, British Columbia’s family physicians join the fight against intimate partner violence

The #SomeMenBreakMoreThanHearts initiative provides family physicians with training and resources when women present with injuries and may be victims of violence

Vancouver, BC, April 5, 2018 – How do you ask your patient if she is experiencing violence from a partner or family member? If you’re a general practitioner in B.C., this is a tough question to ask, especially if you aren’t sure where you can direct your patient to go for help and support. On World Health Day, April 7, 2018, Battered Women’s Support Services is launching the #SomeMenBreakMoreThanHearts initiative, designed to raise awareness of violence against women in intimate relationships, and provide resources to family physicians throughout B.C.

The campaign includes an information and resource kit for general practitioners throughout B.C.. It’s designed to help practitioners better identify and respond to women who may be experiencing violence in her intimate relationship; and offer resources that are available to support women, including immediate safe places to go, crisis support, and ongoing counselling.

 “Violence against girls and women is often not included in discussions of women’s health; it is considered a social issue, not a medical issue,” says Angela Marie MacDougall, Executive Director of Battered Women’s Support Services.

“#SomeMenBreakMoreThanHearts is designed to bridge this gap and give general practitioners more resources in understanding the dynamics of power and control in violence, assessing risks, safety planning and alleviating women’s isolation by connecting them to support. Because the data shows that when women are connected to support organizations, they and their  children are safer,” states MacDougall.

The statistics about violence against women in intimate relationships in Canada and B.C. are staggering—and general practitioners are often the first person women disclose the violence to.

– Over 50% of all women in Canada have experienced physical or sexual violence.

– 40% of the women who have experienced intimate partner violence reported physical injuries, including bone fractures and internal injuries.

– In BC, an average of 232 women per year are admitted to a B.C. hospital for severe injuries from intimate partner violence.

– 1 in 5 women make their first disclosure of violence in an intimate relationship to their general practitioner

– But many women are afraid to tell anyone: only 21% of women reported intimate partner violence to a nurse or a doctor during their lifetime.

Family physicians are often the trusted, first-line responders for women presenting with injuries. Knowing how to identify when someone is experiencing intimate partner violence can save lives,” says Vancouver family physician Dr. Janet Ip. “Having a plan in place to ask the right questions, and the ability to connect women to real help and support can and should be a priority in everyone’s family practice.”

If you are seeking more information, are experiencing violence in an intimate relationship, or know someone who is, please contact:

Battered Women’s Support Services Crisis and Intake Line: 604 687 1867

Toll Free: 1 855 687 1867

Email: intake@bwss.org

www.bwss.org

 About Battered Women’s Support Services

Founded in 1979, Battered Women’s Support Services provides education, advocacy, support services to assist all women in its aim to work towards the elimination of violence, and to work from a feminist perspective that promotes equality for all women. BWSS responded to over 11,000 requests for services in 2016. BWSS’ services include a Crisis Line; Counselling; support groups; victim services; an Indigenous Women’s Program; a Black Women’s Program; a Latin American Women’s Program; legal advocacy and law reform; strategic interventions training; social enterprise, My Sister’s Closet eco-thrift Boutique; violence prevention and intervention volunteer training; and Advancing Women’s Awareness Regarding Employment program (AWARE).

https://www.facebook.com/TheViolenceStopsHere/

Twitter: @EndingViolence

Instagram: @EndingViolence

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Media enquiries

Angela Marie MacDougall

Executive Director

BWSS

director@bwss.org

604-808-0507

BC Budget 2018

BC Budget – a step in the right direction, though leaves important questions unanswered

PRESS RELEASE
For immediate release
February 20, 2018

 
Vancouver, B.C. –On Tuesday, February 20, 2018 the British Columbia provincial government announced the 2018 BC Budget. Battered Women’s Support Services (BWSS) has paid close attention to this budget because of the decline in public spending on women’s equity relative to the BC economy combined with the endemic levels of violence against women in the province of BC.

Over the past several decades, BC has experienced deep funding cuts to public services, funding cuts that had a direct impact on women’s equity efforts. Funding cuts made in the name of reducing budget deficits at the time but never fully reversed even after years of massive fiscal surpluses.

BWSS responds to 11,000 requests for services annually, and some of the biggest challenges for women to leave abusive relationships include access to safe and affordable housing, access to child care and legal aid, income assistance and employment services. It was our hope that the BC budget would address these attitudinal, systemic and institutional factors impeding women’s equity in BC.

The budget announcement featured investing $1 billion over the next three years that will make child care more affordable, dedicating $18 million to services that provide outreach and counselling support for women, a comprehensive housing plan including affordable housing, and improving access to justice through increased funding for legal aid and family law services.

BWSS applauds the attention the BC government has paid to addressing women’s equity in these ways. However, we noted the budget lacked necessary detail on how the provincial government intends to increase women’s access to justice through increased funding for legal aid and family law services.

It was unclear what investment would be made toward increasing legal aid particularly for women self-representing in family law situations.

It would be our concern that the provincial government intends to pursue alternative dispute resolution models in family law instances without adequate violence against women assessments and without sufficient recognition of the patterns of power and control present when women enter the family law arena with their abusive partners. Legal aid and alternative dispute resolution have been central to our system advocacy work including addressing these problems at a recent meeting with Attorney General David Eby.

Many women who access BWSS rely on income assistance and employment services in their pursuit of violence free lives, the budget appeared to be silent on income assistance and employment services. Silent, even though the BC government has indicated they’ve embarked on a poverty reduction strategy.

In related news, late last week, Premier John Horgan announced the newly created position of Parliamentary Secretary for Gender Equity and appointed MLA Mitzi Dean to the position.

In 1991, Canada’s first and only free-standing ministry dedicated to women’s equity was created in BC. The Ministry of Women’s Equality (MWE), did research, advocated on equity for women, particularly in matters related to economic equity, ending violence against women, women’s health and social justice all from a gender lens. Stopping the Violence counselling for women who experience violence was created through MWE, and counselling for women survivors of violence has the ability to provide an opportunity for healing. In 2002 the ministry was eradicated and some of its responsibilities were moved into different ministries like the Ministry of Community, Aboriginal and Women’s Services which became the Ministry of Community Services in 2005. Late last week, February 15 2018, Premier John Horgan announced the newly created position of Parliamentary Secretary for Gender Equity and appointed MLA for Esquimalt-Metchosin, Mitzi Dean, to the position.

BWSS considers the creation of this position is a step in the right direction. However, it wasn’t clear through the budget announcement how she would achieve her mandate. Further, it wasn’t clear what the BC government intends to do with the Provincial Office of Domestic Violence (PODV) which was initiated in 2014. The PODV had a mandate to make sure the provincial government policies, programs and services related to domestic violence are effective and delivered in a comprehensive and unified way across government. There is no evidence that the PODV three year provincial plan was effective. Given these two mandates are almost identical, BWSS would be concerned that we may be starting over again. Both the announcement of the Parliamentary Secretary and the BC Budget 2018 are silent on this. BWSS needs to be certain that effective steps are taken in effort to end violence against women in BC.

For almost 40 years, Battered Women’s Support Services has worked towards women’s liberation through education, advocacy, support services, and systemic change to assist all women in its aim to work towards the elimination of violence. BWSS is hopeful with these recent announcements and seeks to work closely with the provincial government to further women’s equity in BC.

Media inquiries:

Angela Marie MacDougall
Executive Director
Cell: 604-808-0507
Email: director@bwss.org

Justice4Tears, Justice for Indigenous Women and Girls

PRESS RELEASE
For immediate release
September 22, 2017

Justice4Tears Janice Brown, Mable Todd, Vicky Hill

(L-R) Janice Brown, Mable Todd, Vicky Hill

Justice4Tears, Justice for Indigenous Women and Girls

 

Terrace, British Columbia – Our ongoing challenge is to demonstrate the extent of violence against Indigenous women and girls in Canada. The 724 km length of the Yellowhead Highway 16, between Prince Rupert and Prince George, is known across Canada as the Highway of Tears. The name references the number of mostly Indigenous women and girls who have been missing or found murdered along this stretch of highway.

There is much speculation on the exact number of women and girls who have disappeared on the Highway of Tears over the last 50 years, many people say that the number of missing women combined with the number of murdered women exceeds 50.

Tamara’s walk or Justice4Tears walk is organized by Gladys Radek whose niece Tamara Lynn Chipman went missing on the highway 12 years ago.  A community feast at the Nisga’a Hall to honor the Tears4Justice walkers on their journey was held on September 20, 2017 in the presence of hereditary and elected Indigenous governance, family and local community members, a delegation from the Downtown Eastside Women’s Centre from Vancouver, Coast Salish Territories, BC and a support team from Battered Women’s Support Services (BWSS).

The walk began on September 21, 2017 in Prince Rupert and will conclude in Smithers, British Columbia for the start of the hearings on the National Inquiry of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls.

Justice4Tears, Justice for Indigenous Women and Girls“We are so honoured to be able to take part in the 7th walk through the Highway of Tears to remember Tamara Lynn Chipman. This walk is not only to remember her life, but to remember and bring light to the horrific levels of violence Indigenous women and girls face everyday”, said Summer Rain, Indigenous Women’s Support Worker at BWSS, “This is an opportunity as Indigenous women as family members and as survivors to reclaim space that for Indigenous women would be compromised or a risk to our safety”.

By all accounts, through consultation and conversation with women, the northwest and north coast of British Columbia continues to be rife with misogynist and racist violence against Indigenous women and girls. Misogyny and sexism is endemic in Canada and that permeates in the RCMP’s response to women and girls and in the legal system.  There is a belief in communities that Indigenous women and girls on the street are fair game and if a woman or girl is in need of support any effort to get help often leads to her exploitation.

“BWSS often receive calls from women experiencing violence in remote communities and because of their limited options they may have no choice but to escape to larger urban settings including the Downtown

Eastside of Vancouver, Coast Salish Territory”, said Angela Marie MacDougall, Executive Director at BWSS, “It is a priority for BWSS as an organization to come out and support because women in northern and remote communities tell us that they don’t have access to services”.

There is no concerted political will by the Provincial government and the RCMP to implement changes to increase safety. The budget for the RCMP investigation into 18 murdered and missing women and girls along the Highway of Tears was slashed by 84 per cent. And while shuttles were promised, they do not run on the entire extent of the highway leaving many women vulnerable on the most dangerous parts of the highway. The Highway of Tears Symposium was held in 2006 and did not release its 33 recommendations until 2013.

“On the verge of the National Inquiry commencing in B.C in Smithers, we walk for the Spirits of the women and girls stolen from this land”, said Terriea Harris, Manager, Indigenous Women’s Program at BWSS, “Many Indigenous women and girls feel desperate to flee violence and oppressive experiences in the North but their only way of leaving is the Highway of Tears. The perfect set up for predators. The time is now for the Action and we hang on to the hope of what will come through the National Inquiry”.

Most of the cases on the Highway of Tears remain unsolved.

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Media enquiries
Angela Marie MacDougall, Executive Director, Battered Women’s Support Services
Tel. (604) 808-0507 E-mail: director@bwss.org

 

Canada’s Federal Government Fails to Provide Constitutional Right to Legal Aid and Immigrant and Refugee Women’s Lives Hang in the Balance

 

 

 

 

PRESS RELEASE
For immediate release
June 26, 2017

Canada’s Federal Government Fails to Provide Constitutional Right to Legal Aid and Immigrant and Refugee Women’s Lives Hang in the Balance

Vancouver, B.C. Coast Salish Territory – On June 26, 2017 Legal Services Society (LSS) announced that effective August 1, 2017 they will no longer accept applications for immigration and refugee cases due to a lack of funding.

According to their background and information sheet, LSS has experienced a 145% increase in refugee claims in the last three years without an increase in funding from the Canadian federal government. Under the Canadian constitution, the federal government is responsible for immigration and refugee laws including the immigration tribunals and their processes. By not providing the necessary funding, the Canadian federal government is in conflict with the constitution and the Supreme Court has ruling that legal representation is required when the right to life, liberty and security of the person is at stake.

At Battered Women’s Support Services (BWSS), over 40% of women who access services are immigrant women, 2% are in Canada as refugees and every woman requires some type of legal information or support.

“Immigrant and refugee women in abusive relationships are navigating the intersection of immigration, family and criminal law systems,” said Rosa Elena Arteaga, BWSS Manager of Direct Services and Clinical Practice.  “While the federal government is not fulfilling its responsibility to provide legal aid for immigration and refugee law matters, this has prompted the province of British Columbia to announce they’re stopping service and now immigrant and refugee women’s lives hang in the balance.”

Without legal aid, immigrant and refugee women fleeing abusive partners will not have legal representation in their legal proceedings while in their pursuit of legal immigration status in Canada and without immigration status; they will be unable to access crisis support such as shelters or transition houses.  Without access to these supports, women and their children will have few options other than staying with a violent partner.  Further, without status and without legal representation women who have come to Canada fleeing gender persecution are at risk for deportation.

“It takes a lot for an immigrant or refugee woman to leave an abusive relationship and for women to flee gender persecution,” said Angela Marie MacDougall BWSS Executive Director.  “This move in British Columbia has ensured the further entrapment of immigrant and refugee women and their children in violent situations including deportation to dangerous circumstances.”

 

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Media enquiries

Angela Marie MacDougall, Executive Director, Battered Women’s Support Services
Tel. (604) 808 0507 E-mail: director@bwss.org

Press Release: Community Comes Together in Response to the Fentanyl Crisis in Vancouver

PRESS RELEASE
For immediate release
June 8, 2017

Community Comes Together in Response to the Fentanyl Crisis in Vancouver, B.C.

Vancouver, B.C. –What does Vancouver have in common with Columbus, Chicago, Manchester, Winnipeg and Calgary? An opioid crisis. Whether it’s heroin, fentanyl, carfentanil, or spice, illicit substance use has taken a dramatic turn recently. Could this be a “canary in the coal mine” giving us clues into the current social cultural conditions and related systemic response?

According to the BC Corners Report, there were 139 illicit drug overdose deaths with fentanyl detected from January through February 2017 which is a 90% increase over the number of deaths during the same period in 2016. Much of the discourse thus far on this issue has been focused on men’s use but it is also important to look at the specific dynamics for women.

On Friday, June 9, 2017 Battered Women’s Support Services (BWSS), Adler University and Central City Foundation are coalescing the community on this issue and the specific factors for women at Women and Fentanyl Crisis Panel and Community Café.

“This is a critically important event in aid of putting women’s voices and women’s experiences into the public realm. Our institutions, including the media, too often focus on numbers, not impact” said Janice Abbott, CEO of Atira Women’s Resource Society “The impact of a woman’s death can be far reaching and intergenerational. As a community, we need a considered and appropriate response”.

In the late 1990’s and early 2000’s the City of Vancouver had a four pillar policy for substance use based on four principals: harm reduction, prevention, treatment and enforcement. Since then, The Four Pillars section of the City of Vancouver’s website has no recent updates, there is no longer a drug policy coordinator and there haven’t been any recent progress reports on the policy.

Women and Fentanyl Crisis Panel and Community Café will begin at 10am until 2pm with panelists Janice Abbott, CEO of Atira Women’s Resource Society, Mebrat Beyene, and Executive Director of WISH Drop in Centre Society and Terriea Harris, Manager, Indigenous Women’s Program at Battered Women’s Support Services and emceed by Jennifer Johnstone, CEO of Central City Foundation. This event is a direct community based response to a serious social issue and is designed to help amplify community engagement. We will revisit models like Four Pillars and the Portuguese Model as part of the event.

“It’s critically important to recognize the role of women who are on the frontline of the crisis literally breathing life into people every day”, said Terriea Harris, Manager, Indigenous Women’s Program at BWSS, “ Women support workers, advocates and activists who in their actions are challenging the definition of “first responder”.”

“In keeping with our long-standing commitment to bringing neighbours together to build hope in our community, Central City Foundation is pleased and proud to support our community partners and this critical dialogue on the devastating impacts of the Fentanyl crisis on women and to help seek solutions to this crisis” said Jennifer Johnstone, CEO of Central City Foundation.

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Media enquiries

Janice Abbott, CEO of Atira Women’s Resource Society
Phone: 604.813.0851
Email: janice_abbott@atira.bc.ca

Jennifer Johnstone, CEO Central City Foundation
Phone: (604) 787-5286
Email: jennifer.johnstone@centralcityfoundation.ca

Terriea Harris, Manager, Indigenous Women’s Program at Battered Women’s Support Services
Phone: (604) 652-1867
Email: terriea@bwss.org

Event Updates

Opening and Territorial Welcome Audrey Siegl, Musqueam Nation

 Sχɬemtəna:t, St’agid Jaad, Audrey Siegl, is an independent activist from the unceeded lands of the Musqueam, has been active on grassroots environmental and social justice-political frontline movements. Audrey has worked on raising awareness on MMIW, DTES issues incl housing, the Fentynal crisis, displacement and the connection between extraction industry projects and violations of First Nations, land and human rights.

Emcee

Jennifer Johnstone is President & CEO of Central City Foundation since 2006, and has an extensive background in non-profit management and community resource development, including experience as a fundraiser, marketing and communications manager and non-profit executive for more than 25 years. Jennifer remains passionately committed to social justice and community investment and, throughout her life, has served as a volunteer in many capacities with various organizations at the local, provincial and national level.

 

 

 

 

If you are unable to attend Women and Fentanyl Crisis Panel and Community Café, catch Angela Marie MacDougall, Executive Director at BWSS on Roundhouse Radio’s Sense of Place with Minelle Mahtani at 11am, June 9, 2017 for more on this serious social issue.