Compassion In A Kiss World Premiere

November 25 2015
International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women

Sexual violence against women continues to be a prevalent social issue in Canada. While the majority of incidents of sexual violence go unreported we do know nine out of ten of sexual assaults reported to the police are by women and in almost all cases the perpetrators are male.

Local artists Claire Mortifee, Young Nige and DJ K-Rec teamed up to create Compassion in a Kiss to generate awareness about sexual violence against girls and women and to get men involved in preventing sexual violence. The music video, directed by filmmaker Jem Garrard, will be released in collaboration with Battered Women’s Support Services (BWSS) on, November 25, 2015 –International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women.

November 25 2015 International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women

“Compassion in a Kiss is a project that is very dear to my heart.” Said singer Claire Mortifee, “As both a survivor of and witness to sexual violence, I am deeply grateful for the incredible work BWSS does to make the world a safer, more beautiful, and more just place for everyone. Together, we can co-create real change!”


Engaging men is primary to prevention –everyone has a responsibility for ending sexual violence. Compassion in a Kiss amplifies the voices of women and speaks to sexual violence and urges men to take a proactive role in sexual violence prevention.

Click here to watch Young Nige and Claire Mortifee share more about Compassion in a Kiss

Click the image above to watch Young Nige and Claire Mortifee share more about Compassion in a Kiss


“Compassion in a Kiss was a unique opportunity to align my feminism with my craft as an MC.” Said – Young Nige “Initially, I was concerned about addressing these issues as a man; however, I’ve since come to recognize that men’s voices are needed to challenge normalized misogyny and the consequent epidemic of rape and sexual violence. Of the work I’ve done, this song is among the pieces I’m most proud of.”

Battered Women’s Support Services is thrilled to be a part of this partnership, amplifying the voices of women, raising awareness about the role of men ending sexual violence and creating social change.

Claire Mortifee and Young Nige will perform Compassion in a Kiss with DJ K-Rec live at Breaking the Silos  at Terminal City Club in Vancouver, Coast Salish Territories.



June-2014-Man-Up-400As part of the growing efforts to include men as part of the solution to prevent and end violence against women, Battered Women’s Support Services created the June campaign in 2013 urging men to own their role and help end violence against women.

Everyday young men and boys are taught that being a man means maintaining dominance through violence. Men have a vital role to play as fathers, brothers, friends, decision makers, community members and leaders in speaking out against violence and bringing attention to the issue.

Our campaign has focused on the impact that patriarchy and the term “Man Up” has on boys and men. There is a crisis in masculinity where boys and men feel they must maintain power through violence. The boy in the poster is hurt and instead of teaching him to find healthy ways of stopping violence society teaches him being a man means showing dominance and perpetuating violence to maintain their power. This year our poster features a young man holding a gun which illustrates the reality of how behaviours of boys are shaped within the culture of violence.


In light of the recent #YesAllWomen hash tag, the men in this video are owning their role and showing their support to end violence against women. While not all men are violent against women, many men choose to stay silent. That silence has allowed for the continued violence against girls and women. As Troy Westwood said “Violence against women will end when men end violence against women.” It is time for men to break their silence and be part of the solution! Patriarchy and toxic masculinity create a world where neither women nor men can live freely. YOU have the power to create social change!

Join our campaign and be part of the International Call To Men To End Violence Against Women. For resources on what you can do to help end violence against women, please visit here.

Don’t Be That Guy 2013

Sex without consent is sexual assault, also known as, rape.

On Thursday, July 4th, 2013, Battered Women’s Support Services has partnered with Vancouver Police Department, Bar Watch, WAVAW and BC Women’s Hospital and Health Centre in Don’t Be That Guy for the second time. Don’t Be That Guy – a behavioural marketing campaign sends the message that sex without consent is sexual assault. We are sending a visual message to men between the ages of 18 – 25, graphically demonstrating their role in ending alcohol facilitated sexual assaults. Don’t Be That Guy shifts the emphasis to men to take responsibility for their behaviour. Studies involving 18-25 year old men revealed that 48 per cent of the men did not consider it rape if a woman is too drunk to know what is going on.

The original vision for Don’t Be That Guy was a community collaboration in Edmonton, Alberta in response to recognition of increased reports of alcohol facilitated sexual assaults in their city. The community collaboration called themselves SAVE (Sexual Assault Voices of Edmonton) and their major partners were Edmonton Police Service, Sexual Assault Centre of Edmonton, University of Alberta Sexual Assault Centre, Saffron Centre, Alberta Health Services – Covenant Health, Prostitution Action and Awareness Foundation of Edmonton, University of Alberta Women’s Studies Program, Red Cross (Edmonton), Responsible Hospitality Edmonton and several community advocates.

Typically, sexual assault awareness campaigns target potential victims/women by urging women to restrict their behaviour. We know through our work at Battered Women’s Support Services and research confirms that women are, on a daily basis, taking remarkable steps to prevent victimization, and that targeting the behaviour of victims is not only ineffective, but also contributes to how much they, the offender and the larger public (including law enforcement and justice system) blame women after the assault. Here’s more information about Sexual Assault – Rape. The behaviour of men, including the sense of entitlement in regards to sex and access to women’s bodies is what is being challenged through this campaign. Don’t Be That Guy is urging men to end rape.

In order to effect change and end rape we must put the onus on the ones responsible for the assault to be responsible for stopping it. Don’t Be That Guy is intended to address alcohol-facilitated sexual assault without victim-blaming. These seven posters are appearing in restrooms in Vancouver downtown core bar district. Bar district staff are being trained to recognize and respond to situations of risk, to hold potential offenders responsible and to ensure the safety of potential victims.

JusBecause-Poster_4 fk JusBecause-Poster_2 couch JusBecause-Poster_3 cab


Battered Women’s Support Services has been working to prevent violence against women for 34 years. For 22 years we have delivered violence prevention and healthy relationships information to youth in middle and high schools in BC. Our Youth Engagement in Violence Prevention Program entails a heavy emphasis on “by-stander” intervention components, urging those who are silent and witnessing to become engaged participants to respond to instances of domestic and/or sexual violence. When we launched The Violence Stops Here in 2010, Battered Women’s Support Services urged men to own their role in ending violence against women. Last year we responded to 10,000 requests for information and support.

If you have been sexually assaulted or if you are dealing with violence in an intimate relationship call us at 604-687-1867 or toll-free at 1-855-687-1868.

The posters are available for download or email us at

Don’t Be That Guy – Urging Men to Own Their Role to End Rape

Media and Pictures from the Press Conference July 4, 2013


3 posters 4 posters wavaw bwss bchosp roxy police thank you save bathroom

Lost Boys

Toronto was reeling after learning that the person arrested for sexual assaulting over a dozen women in a section of the city during the summerwas a 15 year old boy. For many young men and boys today, is growing up an ascent or descent into Manhood? Looking at the need to discuss the ways society sculpts boys into men, Jeff Perera looks back at an experience with two young boys and reflects on what he wishes he said to them.

I used to be a little boy
So old in my shoes
And what I choose is my choice
What’s a boy supposed to do?

Disarm – The Smashing Pumpkins


Rush hour at the end of a Friday is fascinating. People racing to escape a place they spend the majority of their waking hours in life, retreating into what they believe is their actual life. Sometimes we find ourselves running from our self, like a dog scared of its own tail, and from truths which we can’t outrun.

On one odd Friday after work, I found myself in a mostly-deserted subway car heading out of the downtown core. Sitting to my right was a woman wearing headphones lost in either the music or the textbook in her hands. She likely couldn’t hear (or didn’t want to hear) the two young boys sitting across from us.

Two boys, both no older than twelve, both holding smartphones in hand, both with their hair styled and wearing the latest fashions. Both trying so hard to pass for well beyond their age, I felt like I was watching a parody,  part of me wanted to look for the hidden camera. They exchanged slang-ridden sentences loudly like they owned the joint, showing each other images on their phones with mimicked, carefully rehearsed body language.

“Hey, check this out!”
The other looks, then sits back, shaking his head with a matching cool sneer declares ‘That’s gaaay…..that’s gaaaaay’

I couldn’t take more of the charade, and suddenly reacted like I was kicked in the gut,  bursting out ”Hey Guys, talking like that is not cool!!” Like deflated balloons, the tween-macho-bubble burst. Something was ripped out of their spines and throats. Their heads dropped as they sunk into their seats with the posture of jello, becoming twelve year old boys.

We just sat there. The three of us.

Maybe they were the young boys on your street, in your apartment building, or in your life. Trying desperately to find their way, forever lost on the subway of Life without a guide or a map. Instead of growing up to be Men, some boys grow up to be Adult Boys. The question we urgently need to ask ourselves is:

For our young men & boys today, is growing up an ascent or descent into Manhood?

The truth is that more young men & boys are lost than we want to admit. It has always has been this way, what other way could it be? The world we create for them is like a enormous mansion with endless rooms. They have the keys to every room, but most get lost and spend their entire lives trying to find their way home…a way out.

“When we teach our sons how to throw a ball or slap a puck, let us also teach them how to gently hold a hand. Teach them how to hug. Often, we think small things are irrelevant – they are not.

Dwain Wellington


The general idea of how we create paths forward for children based on their gender, and create concepts of gender itself,  are really depressing. Before you set foot in this world, say your first words or have any say in anything, decisions and a path forward is carved for you by others. It is a double-edged sword striking an impossible divide across one’s humanity, like using a knife to separate water in a bowl.

The way society as a whole sculpts out ideas of what it is to be a boy or to be a girl,
is like carving a statue out of stone.

Some artists will tell you they are simply freeing the art that is locked inside the medium they are working with,  just removing the unnecessary excess to reveal the art. Michelangelo is quoted as saying “ever block of stone has a statue inside it and it is the task of the sculptor to discover it”.

So you start sculpting a male child with that new block that is a person’s mind and soul.

When society sculpts a boy out of the block, hands chip away and discard pieces of their initial essence and humanity. Anything ‘non-masculine’ is discarded, such as sensitivity, emotional literacy and connection, empathy, and consensus decision-making connected to your heart as well as mind. We preserve the tough, unmoved, strong and silent core, void of a whole half denied him. Some of us have it all carved out. Some of us thankfully were carved to have partial access to our full range of humanity. Some of us are trying to hold onto those discarded pieces chiseled away by others to define who we are.

The portion of the block discarded to carve out young men & boys is what society deems to be reserved for women and girls. The reality is that opposite of ‘Man’ is not ‘Woman’, the opposite of being a ‘Man’ is being a ‘Boy’. While girls are wondering  ’won’t I need to be assertive to take control, find my voice and make my imprint?’, boys are left searching as well.

We raise boys to be tough, be courageous, to take risks and damn the consequences.
We raise girls to be cautious and consider consequences.

We raise boys sheltered from their impact on others… “boys will be boys”
We raise girls to care what others think and define themselves accordingly “What will people say??”

We raise boys to become men stuck in time, thinking they are still their former self from decades ago.
We raise girls to become women that weigh the future and their mortality. “How much time is left, cause your body is aging, devaluing, ticking…”

If we will consciously, consistently teach our sons – regardless of our biological connection or their age –who and what women are, we will redeem ourselves as guardians of the next generation. “

Dwain Wellington

Some young men are raised with a sense of entitlement. Messages everywhere remind them the world is theirs for the taking. If you want it, go get it. Pop Country superstar Carrie Underwood humoured a 12-year-old boy at a concert in Louisville, Kentucky who held a “Will You Be My First Kiss?” sign. So she bought up on stage to kiss him as he wanted. Why is this treated different than if a grown man were to kiss a 12 year old girl? I remember a mother telling me how her young daughter in Kindergarden came home complaining that a boy in her class won’t stop trying to kiss her. She tells him to stop and pushes him away. He doesn’t stop and the teacher doesn’t try to stop him.

Here is where it starts.

Lil’ Reese is a 19 year old rapper from Chicago. Here are some lyrics from his song TrafficWe ain’t really with that talking, bitch we love that action/I lost so many niggas, turned into a savage…/Kicked your bitch to the curb, she was too dramatic.” The performance many people know him from is an argument with a  young woman who wants Lil’ Reese and his crew to leave her house.


It ends with this woman who dared speak up in her own home being beaten. Other men stand by and watch as Lil’ Reese defends the fragile house of cards that is his idea of manhood. This adult boy explodes into a fury, lost is value for her black sister, for black female bodies and souls. Lost is his own soul. The costs for carving out these warped ideas of manhood are internal break-downs and young men becoming shut-in’s or walking time-bombs.

This world rejects me
This world threw me away
This world never gave me a chance
This world’s gonna have to pay

Something inside of me has opened up its eyes
Why did you put it there did you not realize
This thing inside of me it screams the loudest sound
Sometimes I think I could

I’m gonna burn this whole world down

If I could have the moment back with those boys on the train I would have said something more. I would said “You know guys, you maybe old enough to travel alone, perhaps you have no choice, perhaps no one is too concerned, because you are boys…and you might know where you are going, but do you know where you are headed? I watched you both practice what you know, your truth. Riding a rush hour train, trying to be grown up but not grown at all. You are following the example of  those who haven’t grown up themselves. Don’t be in a rush, the train will get there, there is no rush.’


Japan’s Kosho Sudo, on the right in this picture, is a master Buddhist sculpture craftsperson.
Here he and his students carve a statue of Buddha made of pine which was hit by a earthquake and tsunami.  About 5,000 people have contributed to the carving of the nearly nine-foot-tall, six-foot-deep statue.

As with this statue, thousands of people together carve out ideas for boys and girls of what they can be,  cannot be, must be, or must not be.

We do this. All of us. We do this.

What are you carving out, sculpting out for yesterday’s, today’s and tomorrow’s generation?

The tools are in your hands as they are in mine.


“Lost Boys” was first published on Higher Unlearning on November 5, 2012.

Men’s Work—To Stop Male Violence

Men’s Work—To Stop Male Violence
by Paul Kivel

“WHY DO MEN BATTER WOMEN?” “Why do men rape women?” “Why do men stalk, harass, exploit and mistreat women?” To answer such questions we must first of all discard the easy answer:

“They’re monsters.” In fact, research shows that most men who batter, rape, or harass women are very ordinary and not much different from most other men. In all too many “normal” households, workplaces, congregations, and schools, violence is a common family secret. Nor are they crazy. Most of these men are sane, rational, and lead socially acceptable lives.

Read the entire article by Paul Kivel here.

The Violence Stops Here – Men Stopping Violence

3 Days Left to Make a Difference!!! With a Simple Click of the Mouse The Violence Stops Here! VOTE NOW!

If you could help end violence with a simple click of the mouse, would you? Your vote today could make the difference between success and failure of an anti-violence campaign that could change the way violence affects the daily lives of Canadian women across the country for good.

Battered Women’s Support Services is reaching out to YOU for your help to get votes for our vision —a dream of a world without violence against women, a world where no girl or woman has to suffer oppression, violence and abuse.

Simply go online to: and click on the VOTE NOW button to register your email address and vote to give your support to Battered Women’s Support Services Big Idea: Idea #6956 The Violence Stops Here.

As part of its mission for good corporate citizenry Aviva Insurance wants to promote positive impact in the community and sponsor a community project that is judged to have the most impact. The Aviva Community Fund will provide funding opportunities for local and national initiatives for change.

This year Battered Women’s Support Service is driving one of the only initiatives to promote the positive involvement of men as key in the work to end violence against women.

Three men are featured on the Aviva website. These are just three of the men who are willing to step forward and make a stand against violence like the many who are feature on our showcase site:


Gallery 15

We urge you to vote now and vote as often as you can. Only with your help can we make our dream a reality. Anyone who registers on the Aviva Community Fund website can vote during the Idea Entry and Semi-Final phases of the competition.

There are only 3 days left to make a difference! Please take the time out of your day this week and make the extra effort to vote as many times as you can for Idea #6956 The Violence Stops Here. You can cast all 10 of your votes at any time within each round, but you can only vote for each idea once a day. Pass the word onto family and friends. On behalf of the women and children we serve, we thank you for your vote and support!!!