“Their Spirits Live Within Us” 26th Annual Women’s Memorial March

Memorial March Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women

“Their Spirits Live Within Us” Join Battered Women’s Support Services on Sunday, February 14th for the 26th Annual Women’s Memorial March. The February 14th Women’s Memorial March is an opportunity to come together to grieve the loss of our beloved sisters in Downtown Eastside Vancouver and to dedicate ourselves to justice.

Here’s more about the march: https://www.facebook.com/events/567879256695101/

Memorial March Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women

International Human Rights Day

International Human Rights Day

Resisting the Backlash Against Women’s Human Rights

by Ela Esra Gunad

December 10th is International Human Rights Day, a day to bring attention to the fundamental proposition in the Universal Declaration that states each one of us, everywhere, at all times is entitled to the full range of human rights which belong equally to each of us and bind us together as a global community with the same ideals and values. It was sixty-six years ago that this milestone document in the history of human rights, The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), was adopted.

Where are we as a global community at today in terms of the rights of women?

Every day, all over the world, women and girls continue to face violence and abuse in their homes, schools, workplaces, online, and on the streets. Globally one in three women has experienced abuse or subjected to gender-based violence in their lives.  Here in Canada, every six days a woman is killed by her intimate partner. Women are facing this violence simply because they are women. There are currently 1,181 missing and murdered  Indigenous women and girls throughout Canada due to the historical and present day systemic and social oppressive forces.

Throughout history and still today, there has been an ongoing battle on women’s bodies during times of conflict and warIn Rwanda, between 100,000 and 250,000 women were raped during the three months of Rwandan Genocide in 1994. According to the UN agencies, more than 60,000 women were raped during the civil war in Sierra Leone (1991-2002), more than 40,000 in Liberia (1989-2003), up to 60,000 in the former Yugoslavia (1992-1995), and at least 200,000 in the Democratic Republic of the Congo since 1998. And, the history repeats itself today from Egypt, Afghanistan, and Iraq to Syria. Even in the absence of conflict or war, being a woman in these regions is being on continual alert of being harmed or killed. It cannot be ignored that during waves of militarization threaten women’s lives all the more.  Women have been arbitrarily arrested and detained, physically abused, harassed, and tortured in ways you may not even want to imagine.

Living free from violence is a human right, yet millions of women and girls face this violence both in times of peace and in war, at the hands of the state, in the home, and in the community. A vast number of women experience forced migration and have to leave their homelands in order to escape gendered systemic violence including gender oppression, gender persecution, political persecution, femicide, war, economic violence, land theft, and the impacts of colonization and globalization. We know through our support and advocacy work at Battered Women’s Support Services, migrant women have always faced structural barriers and there are many inequalities that migrant women face within Canada’s economic, social, legal, and political systems. It is crucial to understand that human rights are linked to each other and these inequalities often deny the basic rights of migrant women and their families. Freedom of movement and residence within any country is a human right, yet migrant women’s lives continue to be threatened by unsafe alternatives that force them to flee their countries, and once they make it into Canada the immigration process makes them even more vulnerable to further violence by the state, by employers, and within their relationships.


Violence is one of the most common causes of homelessness for women and children. Our work on homelessness and violence against women shows that women leave their homes because of physical and/or sexual violence. On any given day in Canada, over 8,200 women and children are living in emergency shelters and transition houses to escape violent partners. Every woman and her children are entitled to safe, affordable, and adequate housing, yet many women face homelessness and/or further violence as a result of that. BWSS works very hard to get women into social housing and we know the demand supersedes the available resources.  One women’s shelter reported turning away eight to ten women per day at both of the shelters it operates. At BWSS we know many women with children will do almost anything to avoid sleeping on the streets out of fear of losing their children. With no place to go and not wanting to lose their children, many women stay in the abusive relationship.

This reality will not change until we each own our role in ending violence and do what is in our power to advocate and act ( activism ) to end gender-based violence. Women around the globe are rising against the pandemic of gender based violence, standing in their power, mobilizing and organizing to end all forms of violence against women and girls. From Indigenous women warriors’ who took to social media with #IAmNotNext campaign to women survivors who are standing in their power and coming forward with #WhyIStayed, #WhyILeft, and #WhyIChooseNowtoTellMyStory hashtags; from women of the Arab Spring who carried their voices far and wide on the winds of revolution to women in Nigeria who started #BringBackOurGirls campaign to demand the return of hundreds of kidnapped Nigerian girls.

As it has been said, ending violence against women and girls remains one of the most crucial social issue to be obtained, since it weakens all other efforts towards a future just society. To come to grips with today’s most prevalent human rights violations in world, we have to work together towards a world in which women are safe and free everywhere from their very own intimate environments to the wider world at all times.

In the past 35 years, BWSS has been working on this frontline to end violence against women and making a positive change in the lives of girls, women, families, and communities.

On this International Human Rights Day, we ask you to take an effective action to stop violence against women. We need you to create a future free from violence for all.

Use your power today to end violence against women by:


Read more about our 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-based Violence campaign:

International Day to End Violence Against Women in Canada

Culture Shifts Recognized as Women’s Group Commemorates 35 years of Work to End Violence Against Women

Women’s Leadership for One Future Without Violence

The Dynamics of Power and Control After Separation in Relation to the Family Law Processes

16 Steps for Discovery and Empowerment 

Decolonizing and Healing Through Ceremonies

The Power of Support Groups at BWSS

Volunteering on BWSS Crisis and Intake Line

Wildflower Women of Turtle Island Drum Group

A Space for Every Woman to Grow

If you could do something to end violence against girls and women, wouldn’t you?


Let’s Be Clear Pick-Up Artists = Men Who Contribute to Rape Culture

Nicole* was shopping on Robson street when a man approached her. After a few minutes of harmless conversation, Nicole tried to turn back to what she was doing, but the man insisted and continued to harass her.

“I made it very obvious to him that I didn’t want to talk,” Nicole says. “I backed away from him, I pulled my phone out, I gave him one word answers. And he just kept going on and on. It got to the point where I had to end the conversation.”

Nicole’s experience is far from unique. According to news report of Vancity Buzz, the man who harassed Nicole was part of a “social club”, probably participating in a pick up artists (PUA) bootcamp where they learn how to “pick up” women and share seduction tips with each other. Then they take to the streets to practice the techniques they learned. As our ED Angela Marie MacDougall said in an interview yesterday at CTV News, PUA techniques focus heavily on a steadily escalating process of coercion and many come with an assumption that a man has a right to have sex with any woman he wants.

The male sexual entitlement makes them believe that women owe them sexual favours in exchange for their attention, aggressiveness, or just existing. If he doesn’t succeed in landing a given “catch”, he’s less of a man which puts tremendous pressure on him to seal the deal at all costs. No surprise “no means no” doesn’t appear in neither PUA’s curriculum or dictionary. It teaches men that women are objects to be won, and that when a woman says no, it doesn’t actually mean no.

So many of these tips and indeed much of the terminology are misogynist and directly encourage rape and boundary-crossing behaviour. They are encouraging men to use tremendous pressure to get women to sleep with them. And what if they are denied sex? Overcome “last minute resistance”, for example one of the PUA techniques, with a series of coldly calculated steps intended to get a woman to cave in and have sex. These steps notably don’t include an active solicitation of consent.

When a culture judges its men on what age they first had sex, how many women they have sex with, and the hotness level of their conquests, inevitably some of these men would adopt the attitude that sex without consent is okay. Respecting women would become only a hindrance that has to be overcome no matter what. The structure of such techniques creates the idea that forcing women to have sex is normal, and that pressuring sexual partners is acceptable. As these techniques spread out beyond the PUA community, they become internalized by the rest of society. In the process, they can become increasingly distorted.

It is clear that PUA is a huge contributor to rape culture in our society. These men are participating in a smarmy, objectifying, highly sexist culture that treats women like prizes to be won rather than human beings. Even naming predators’ action of harassment as “pick up artists”, not respecting women’s personal space and their choices, having sex without consent as an “art”, all normalize the unacceptable. And thanks to the normalization of coerced sex, their victims may have difficulty discussing what happened to them, let alone reporting it to authorities who might be able to take action.

PUA Poster

Download the poster here.

If you could do something to end violence against girls and women, wouldn’t you?


Individuals Mobilize After Recent News About Jian Ghomeshi

For the past 35 years Battered Women’s Support Services has worked to end violence against women and we remember when in 1982, Margaret Mitchell MP told the Canadian House of Commons of the prevalence of wife battering and the male MP’s laughed at her.  Throughout history and today hundreds of thousands of girls and women have been victims of male violence.

Based on our work at Battered Women’s Support Services (BWSS), we know…

  • One in three women experiences domestic and/or sexual violence
  • Every year in Canada, approximately 460,000 women is sexually assaulted
  • 1 – 2% of “date rape” sexual assaults are reported to the police
  • Out of every 1000 sexual assaults, 997 assailants walk free
  • In British Columbia for the first nine months of 2014, 13 women were murdered and 5 women survived from attempted murder by their male partner or husband

When the news of the allegations of Jian Ghomeshi’s sexual violence against women broke last week much of the public was shocked and horrified.

Nine women so far have now come forward claiming former CBC host Jian Ghomeshi was physically violent towards them and the public is learning:

Many are saying that this incident is the watershed moment where finally they are fed up with male violence against women and for others, they are not so sure.

We remain cautiously hopeful because we have witnessed the changes in the dialogue over the past year whenever the topic of violence against women makes the news in large part due to the conversations happening in social media.  There is much silence, silencing and social stigma surrounding violence against women within all segments of our communities and institutions. Social media continues to be a powerful tool, giving voice to survivors of male violence in unprecedented ways.  Social media has also given voice to those members of our community who perhaps hadn’t spoken to violence against women before or who believed the myths.  In recognition of the critical role a call began in social media to support the front-line women’s serving organizations through financial donations.

This is what several concerned, caring individuals are doing as their way to engage with the work to end violence against women:



This philanthropy continued within traditional media as well such as when Marion Collins wrote a letter to the editor in the Vancouver Sun that she is donating the refund for her four tickets from canceled CBC event with Jian Ghomeshi to Battered Women’s Support Services.

“In fact, I bought them as soon as the show was announced on Q without knowing who the guests would be, or who I would ask to go with me. I bought them because of Jian Ghomeshi. In light of all that has happened in the past week, I am taking the money, which is being refunded to my credit card, and donating it to Battered Women’s Support Services.

I was willing to spend $160 on tickets for an hour and a half of entertainment from Jian Ghomeshi, and all week long I have had the feeling that I was duped by him. I feel foolish, and my heart goes out to each of the brave women who have come forward.

I am strongly urging every other ticket holder that is about to receive a refund to donate their money to an organization that supports women who have been victims of abuse.” Marion Collins, Vancouver

We talk often at Battered Women’s Support Services about how important it is to raise awareness about the prevalence of violence against women and how can we continue to mobilize our communities to take action.  Often people are unsure of how to take action.  The issue seems too large and too daunting and too grim and too “negative” and often because of that people are quick to turn away and get back to that which seems more pleasant.  What we know is that we can’t do this work to end violence against women alone.  The conversations and the action that is happening currently will have to continue.  Battered Women’s Support Services has taken leadership on this front for the past 35 years, we will continue to do this work and we are very grateful for those members of our communities who joined us over the past week through their gift.

We all have a role to play in ending violence against women and we can end it only if we all take action. BWSS thanks each and every one of you for owning your role.

For more information on how to take action: www.bwss.org

If you are concerned about a current or past experience of gender based violence please:

Call BWSS Crisis & Intake Line at 604-687-1867 or toll free at 1-855-687-1868 for support and information.

Safety is always at the centre of our work at Battered Women’s Support Services.  Planning for safety can be one way women can take back power in abusive relationships. BWSS offers a guide for women to create their own personalized safety plan: https://www.bwss.org/take-back-your-power-planning-for-safety-in-abusive-relationships/

Empowerment is key to healing from abuse and this can be achieved by bringing women together. BWSS provides specialized support groups for girls and women experienced and/or currently experiencing violence: https://www.bwss.org/support/programs/support-groups/


Join us in the BWSS 35th Anniversary Celebration! Buy your tickets here.




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.