by Rona Amiri, BWSS YOUth Ending Violence Consultant
Although some people may think violence against women is a private issue, we know that everyday in Canada, more than 3,000 women – along with their 2,500 children – are living in emergency shelter to escape violence from their intimate partner relationships.
When we see these statistics it is evident that we all have a role in preventing violence against girls and women. As individuals we can help end violence through social action including advocacy, activism, donating and raising funds for the cause and volunteering.
We know violence is preventable, and men need to be involved in the prevention process in order for the solutions to work. Battered Women’s Support Services has launched several campaigns targeted to men to own their role in ending violence. The role of men is to ending violence because it is primarily men who are the perpetrators of violence against girls and women. June of 2013 BWSS launched an international call to all men to end violence against women. Through the campaign BWSS urged men to own their role and invite them to support ending violence work to help creating security, hope and better living situations for women.
A key aspect in violence prevention is discrediting myths regarding sexual assault. Myths prevent survivors from getting the support they need and stop perpetrators from being held accountable for their actions. Campaigns telling men not to rape are helping the shift the culture in the society by focusing on perpetrators actions rather than focusing on what women can do to keep them safe. The Don’t be that Guy campaign in Vancouver, which BWSS and organizations we partnered with, sends the message that sex without consent, is sexual assault. It emphasizes the role of men to take responsibility for their behaviour rather than other campaigns that target women to be ‘safe’ in order to avoid sexual violence.
Violence prevention works. Research shows that high school violence prevention programs are highly effective. BWSS has delivered youth prevention programming since the late 1980’s. In 2011, we launched the pilot phase of our YOUth Ending Violence Prevention Program. The workshops challenge our socialization, i.e. looking at what it means to be feminine and masculine and how those ideas play a role in violence against young women in relationships. They included strategies on how to take a personal stance against violence and be an empowered bystander. Since the pilot project our female and male youth facilitators have presented to over 2,400 youth in high schools and community organizations throughout the Lower Mainland!
Last year, Battered Women’s Support Services responded to over 10,000 crisis calls from women and girls to get help and end violence. We could not provide this essential support without your contribution.