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:
- why women don’t report sexual violence
- why it is important to believe women who take the risk to disclose experiences of gender-based violence
- why men who are violent towards women are not held accountable for their violence and abuse
- about sexual assault law in Canada and what women need to know
- about sexual street harassment
- and how violence against women continues unabated
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:
— Ken Coach (@KenCoach) October 30, 2014
— Adam Grossman (@AdamJGrossman) October 30, 2014
— Ryan McMahon Comedy (@RMComedy) October 30, 2014
I've been making monthly donations to @EndingViolence for years. Happy to support an org truly making a difference for women who need help
— Kim Baird (@KimCBaird) October 30, 2014
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:
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.