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?


Webcast: Women Seeking Justice Forum ~ International Women’s Day 2015

International Women’s Day 2015

Battered Women’s Support Services Legal Services and Advocacy Program Presents:

Women Seeking Justice Forum

Women Seeking Justice Forum convenes a former judge, researchers, academics, lawyers, legal advocates, and feminist thinkers to illuminate pressing legal issues for women in law practice and policy including international, Indigenous, immigration, refugee, criminal, family, and poverty.


MC Niki Sharma – BWSS Board Member and Lawyer

Opening and Territorial Welcome – Audrey Siegl, Musqueam Nation

Word from Sponsors

Jennifer Johnstone President and CEO Central City Foundation

My Sister’s Closet

Word from Battered Women’s Support Services

Angela Marie MacDougall Executive Director


The Honourable Donna Martinson

First Panel

Aboriginal Women and Girls on the International Agenda

Sharon McIvor, Nlekepmux, from the Lower Nicola Indian Band, Activist, Lawyer, College Professor

Preliminary Findings from a BC Study of RCMP cases of Intimate Partner Violence: Does Gender Symmetry Exist?

Dr. Margaret Jackson, Professor Emerita, School of Criminology and, Director, the FREDA Centre for Research on Violence against Women and Children at SFU

Legal Advocacy and Violence Against Women

Vicky Law, BWSS Legal Advocate

Q & A

Second Panel

Toward a Sanctuary City: Reflections from Lucia Jimenez Coroner’s Inquest 

Rosa Elena Arteaga, Manager, Direct Services and Clinical Practice, Battered Women’s Support Services

Conditional Permanent Residence: The Dangers of Making Immigration Status Conditional on Living with your Spouse

Lobat Sadrehashemi, Staff Lawyer at BC Public Interest Advocacy Office

Women and Homelessness: Challenging Apathy in Policy and Practice

Angela Marie MacDougall, Executive Director, Battered Women’s Support Services

Violence Against Women and the Family Law Act: Early Jurisprudence

Susan Boyd, Professor of Law and Chair in Feminist Legal Studies, University of British Columbia

Q & A

Niki Sharma Closing Remarks

Webcast is in effect and brought to you by The Law Foundation of BC and My Sister’s Closet – a social enterprise of Battered Women’s Support Services

Please email endingviolence@bwss.org during the webcast if you have questions for the presenters or if you have technical difficulties.

Legal Advocacy – How you can assist women’s access to justice and equality under the law

International Women’s Day 2015 provides a great opportunity to highlight the ways in which women fleeing abusive relationships seek safety and justice through the legal system.

The virtual elimination of Legal Aid in British Columbia and the complicated acceptance process has resulted in an increase of women who are having to self represent in family law, immigration and refugee cases. Over 80% of women accessing our services identify at least one legal issue where they require information. (Read more here)

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


National Symposium on Intersections of Violence Against Women and Precarious Immigration Status

National Symposium on Intersections of Violence Against Women and Precarious Immigration Status

June 5, 2014 – Toronto, Ontario Canada

On June 5, 2014, the Migrant Mothers Project and Woman Abuse Council of Toronto will host a National Symposium to address how immigration policy changes are impacting immigrant women’s safety and rights and Battered Women’s Support Services is thrilled to be involved in this important event at this critical time.  The symposium brings together thought and practice leaders who work in immigration settlement, ending violence against women, immigration and refugee law and advocates for temporary foreign workers.

Battered Women’s Support Services is looking forward to collaborating again with Migrant Mothers Project to illuminate how forced migration is gendered and in that gendering exposes women to a broad spectrum of violence.  BWSS Rosa Elena Arteaga will present “Immigration Policy Does Not Recognize the Spectrum of Violence Against Women”.  And as she wrote last November in Women are continually forced to leave their land and migrate to a foreign country where they will be discriminated against based on their social location. Racialized and marginalized migrant women face the most oppressive and unsafe alternatives to flee from their countries and they, are not just simply allowed to enter Canada, they are screened and chosen based on the immigration laws and the policies implemented by the current governmental administration.

Once a migrant woman makes it into Canada, she might have been trafficked-or she might have come as a refugee claimant, through sponsorship, on visitor’s visa, under temporary work permit or undocumented, among other alternatives.  Her immigration status will play a huge role on the level of barriers and oppression that she will face as well as the services available to her. Many migrant girls and women will continue experiencing all forms of violence such as physical, emotional, verbal, and sexual abuse from intimate partners, family members or extended family. The process of migration and a precarious immigration status makes girls and women more vulnerable to experience further violence, by the state, by employers, and within their relationships.

With this in mind, we, at Battered Women Support Services support migrant women with precarious immigration status, non-status, refugee claimants and permanent residents who have or are experiencing violence. We are strongly committed to understanding and recognizing that migrant women don’t “just come” to Canada, migrant women flee from their countries under extreme circumstances and with an immense need for support to overcome the impacts of gendered violence, the impact of migration and the complex process of adaptation.  We have taken many steps to ensure that we provide the appropriate support but also that we affect systemic change.

Here’s more about the National Symposium and Migrant Mother’s Project

For details go to: http://migrantmothersprojectsymposium.weebly.com/

Register at: http://migrantmothersprojectsymposium.weebly.com/

June 5th 2014 Symposium Poster Invitation Final-page-001

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



Cyber-Violence Against Women

Recognizing and Resisting Gender Violence in the Online Environment

Seeing an emergence of cyber-violence against women both as a weapon against women and an environment where women are made to feel unsafe, Battered Women’s Support Services dug deeper to develop our analysis of this type of violence. We initiated Cyber-Violence Against Women:  Recognizing and Resisting Gender Violence in the Online Environment research project to determine:

  1.  in what ways women are experiencing cyber-violence against women,
  2. how this type of violence impacts women’s lives,
  3. how women resist and fight back against this type of violence and
  4. how the community responds to women who experience cyber-violence.

“As information and communication technologies continue to advance, it has become easier and faster for us to communicate with one another, to distribute ideas and information and to make connections with people that transcend geographic and spatial boundaries. What we have noticed at Battered Women’s Support Services is that as use of information and communication technologies has become more ubiquitous, the use of these technologies as a weapon against women has also become ubiquitous.

Not only that, but internet and social media has also become an environment where women are made to feel unsafe and are threatened. Violence against women is being committed through the use of media such as texting, email, Facebook, Twitter, Craigslist, LinkedIn, YouTube and just about any other internet or social media platform you can think of. We have decided to term this type of violence, cyber-violence against women.” – Jessica  West, Researcher of Cyber-Violence Against Women Report.

In today’s world, we are not only living in a physical environment, many of us live significant portions of our lives online. As with any environment, the online environment can expose women to behaviours that are meant to humiliate, shame, or silence women with devastating consequences as evidenced by the experiences and deaths of Amanda Todd, Rehtaeh Parsons, Audrie Pott.   

Today, the parents of Rehtaeh Parsons, Amanda Todd, and Jamie Hubley met with Canadian Members of Parliament, Commons Justice Committee to give their views on Bill C-13.    Bill C-13, Protecting Canadians from Online Crime Act, proposes to criminalize the non-consensual distribution of intimate images online. This bill is delivered to the Canadian public after an onslaught of experiences of cyber-bullying and gender violence, particularly amongst the youth population.

While this effort may have positive impact and provide criminal legal remedy, the Bill fails to recognizes many root causes of gender-based violence and sexual harassment in online environment. It is critically important to make the link between cyber-bullying, online gender violence and the spectrum of violence against women in physical environment to address the problem and find solutions.

Through Cyber-Violence Against Women:  Recognizing and Resisting Gender Violence in the Online Environment Battered Women’s Support Services makes visible the very real way girls and women are impacted and how girls and women resist.  We hope this will further our collective understanding of what cyber-violence against women is, and that it will be the beginning of a conversation about what needs to change, in both society and in policy to end cyber-violence against women.

Read our Cyber-Violence Against Women prepared by Jessica West here and please share widely.


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







Barriers Faced by Women Leaving Abusive Relationships

By Taruna Arora, BWSS Legal Advocate 

At BWSS, women who access our services often deal with an intersection of the law. As a legal advocate, I cannot provide legal advice but I provide legal information and help complete court forms. I also accompany women to court and sometimes, to lawyers. To assist women in dealing with the justice system, we offer advocacy workshops once a year where lawyers from the community deliver presentations on various topics related to family, immigration, and criminal law.

I work primarily with family and immigration law, but women often deal with other concerns such as rental tenancy or Ministry of Children and Family Development. In these situations, the women are often without savings and an understanding of the law in Canada. Some of the women who access our services are immigrants and others are Canadian citizens by birth. In either case, the law is complex and the overlap of different areas makes it even more difficult to problem solve. There are services available in the community such as access pro bono were women can see a lawyer for 30 minutes of free legal advice but these lawyers can only advise on one area of the law. Therefore, if a woman is dealing with multiple or intersecting law issues the problem is not solved.

Often time’s women do not have the finances to hire a lawyer. In these cases women need legal representation in court that a legal advocate cannot provide. The woman will then have to apply for Legal Aid. Legal Aid provides lawyers in limited circumstances for a limited number of hours and even if the woman qualifies, these hours are usually not enough to finish the work. The outcome is that women are forced to self represent. I have had numerous conversations with my friends who are lawyers and most have them lose sleep over a trial. So, women who barely speak the language, have minimal (if any) understanding of the legal system and are dealing with trauma find it extremely difficult to self represent especially since they are asked to stand up against the man who abused them for years. These women also find it hard to retain a job (if they have one) because they need so much time off to prepare for trial and then attend court.

At BWSS we help women apply for legal aid and appeal legal aid decisions as well. We also have a list of lawyers who understand the issue of violence and abuse against women; we make referrals to these lawyers as well. We hope that our role and services including counselling and legal advocacy help women navigate these resources and fill a gap that exists in the current system.

vawalBWSS has written resources in response to this growing problem which are now available. Please visit our Legal Resources page to download the toolkit or manuals.




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.