DOMESTIC VIOLENCE ISSUES & IDEAS BLOG


February 23, 2017

Vlog: Engaging Men and Boys to end Domestic Violence (Part Three)

From the Perspective of: Joseph McGuire, Sexual Assault Educator - "ManEnough?" Program, "Who Do You Tell?", Calgary Communities Against Sexual Abuse

Over the month of February we are focussing on discussing the engagement of men and boys for the purpose of reducing violence against women and girls. In part two of our series,  Marcus Cheung from the Calgary Counselling Centre discussed the difference between a healthy and unhealthy relationship as well as various resources men and boys can use to build healthy relationships.

In part three, and the final portion of our series, Joseph McGuire from Calgary Communities Against Sexual Abuse discusses why it is so important for men and boys to get involved in changing the narrative around being "Man Enough", as well as the many resources and supports that are for men and men only, so that our male population is also supported and able to speak up about their own issues and find the help they may need to live a happy and healthy life:

Engaging Men and Boys with CCASA

What Does Engaging Men and Boys Mean to You?

Importance of Men Being Involved in Ending Violence

Resources for Men in Calgary

We all deserve to lead happy and healthy lives and if you or someone you know is in need of support, there are many programs in Calgary to guide you. Please visit our resources page or contact Calgary Communities Against Sexual Abuse, the Calgary Sexual Health Centre and Calgary Counselling Centre to learn more about the large community that is available to provide insight and support.


February 16, 2017

Vlog: Engaging Men and Boys to end Domestic Violence (Part Two)

From the Perspective of: Marcus Cheung, MSW and Male Domestic Abuse Outreach Program Coordinator, Calgary Counselling Centre

Over the month of February we are focussing on discussing the engagement of men and boys for the purpose of reducing violence against women and girls. In part one of our series, Tristan Abbott from the Calgary Sexual Health Centre explained what engaging men and boys means, his own journey in viewing how men are societally portrayed and some of the resources men and boys have access to in order to lead healthy lives.

In part two of our series and following one of the world's most popular days to celebrate love (Valentine's Day 2017), Marcus Cheung from the Calgary Counselling Centre discusses the difference between a healthy and unhealthy relationship and the supports men and boys can find in Calgary to help them create and sustain healthy relationships:

Supporting men and boys in Calgary

What does engaging men and boys mean to you?

What does a healthy relationship look like?

What does an unhealthy relationship look like?

Resources for men and boys in Calgary, AB

We all deserve to lead happy and healthy lives and if you or someone you know is in need of support, there are many programs in Calgary to guide you. Please visit our resources page or contact the Calgary Sexual Health Centre and Calgary Counselling Centre to learn more about the large community that is available to provide insight and support.  


February 14, 2017

Celebrating Healthy Relationships

By: CDVC Guest Blogger, Anonymous

Each year when Valentine’s Day arrives, the deeper meaning of the day is often lost in chocolates and flowers. But when the chocolate is eaten and the roses wilted, you might want to consider if your relationship is healthy. 

A healthy relationship should feel good. It should add value to your life and bring more happiness than stress. Every relationship takes work, but prolonged tension with your partner could be a sign of an unhealthy relationship.   

As outlined on Alberta Health Services website, a healthy relationship should include trust and respect and a partner should not make the other person uncomfortable.

A healthy relationship should have stability.  Both partners should be able to maintain independence while enjoying the relationship.  There should be reasonable boundaries and both partners should be free to spend time with their friends and family.  When a dispute occurs, it should be resolved fairly with respect on both sides. 

All relationships have their challenges.  Sometimes the lines between a healthy relationship and an unhealthy one can be confusing.      

According to My Health Alberta, in an unhealthy situation, one partner might be afraid to tell the other how they feel, disrespect and ignorance is common and there can be a pattern of increasing or ongoing verbal or psychological abuse.

There is room for improvement in any relationship, and often being able to talk to someone other than your friends and family can help you sort through your concerns.  However there are many additional resources for both men and women in Calgary and Alberta.

This Valentine’s Day, as you purchase your gifts and enjoy the time together, do a quick check in on your relationship.  Are you and your partner growing individually and as partners?  If so, wonderful!  Enjoy it.  If not, consider reaching out for support.  There are many options available.   

Please check out the following resources for support:

https://myhealth.alberta.ca/alberta/Pages/Relationships-what-is-healthy-and-what-is-not.aspx

Healthy Relationships Guideline, Alberta Health Services  

If you or someone you know is in need of support or immediate help, please contact us here: http://cdvc.ca/contact-us-1/


February 9, 2017

Vlog: Engaging Men and Boys to end Domestic Violence (Part One)

From the Perspective of: Tristan Abbott, Calgary Sexual Health Centre

“Some of the greatest advances happen when people are bold enough to speak their truth and listen to others speak theirs.”
Kenneth H. Blanchard

Within prevention of domestic and sexual violence there has been a surge of programs, initiatives, and research focused on the engagement of men and boys for the purpose of reducing violence against women and girls. The Calgary Domestic Violence Collective (CDVC) has made engaging men and boys a core area of work as apart of its framework and for the month of February, we will be sharing three vlogs that concentrate on what this initiative means and the work the CDVC and its members are doing to make a transformative impact on the lives of men and women collectively. 

In part one of our series, Tristan Abbott from the Calgary Sexual Health Centre explains what engaging men and boys means, his own journey in viewing how men are societally portrayed and some of the resources men and boys have access to in order to lead healthy lives:

What Does it Mean to Engage Men and Boys?

Tristan's Journey:

Working Together for a Better Future:

We all deserve to lead happy and healthy lives and if you or someone you know is in need of support, there are many programs in Calgary to guide you. Please visit our resources page or contact the Calgary Sexual Health Centre to learn more about the large community that is available to provide insight and support.  


December 14, 2016

New Beginnings, a Client Story from the Calgary Immigrant Women's Association

From: Calgary Immigrant Women's Association (CIWA) 

*Lily came to Canada in 2006 from China with her husband *Fred and daughter to gain a new start. Since the beginning of their marriage, Fred was very abusive but Lily was hopeful that moving to a new country and distancing herself from her in-laws would positively change her relationship with Fred.

 As soon as they arrived, Fred’s behaviour towards Lily and her daughter only got worse and the two would experience constant verbal, emotional and financial abuse. Lily was also physically assaulted multiple times and was never allowed to talk to any friends or relatives in Canada or back home. Fred had full control over the phone, computer, immigration documents, credit card and internet. Lily became isolated and feared for her daughter's well-being.   

After searching the internet secretly, Lily located the Calgary Immigrant Women's Association (CIWA). When Lily first spoke with a counsellor over the phone, she expressed feelings of distress, isolation, hopelessness and lack of safety in her home due to Fred’s violent behavior. The First Language Support Program offered by CIWA made it easy for Lily to immediately open up to the Family Counsellor and helped her boost her self confidence. She felt sure that she would not be judged for her cultural beliefs and values and she even built up enough courage to respond to her husband and leave the house on her own to seek counselling through CIWA. Her counsellor helped Lily by creating a safety plan and providing the tools she needed to file an Emergency Protection Order (EPO) through the court system. 

After being forced to move out of the house, Fred also started to seek help to deal with his own anger issues. Lily slowly began implementing the tools she learned through counselling and found optimism and strength. She also learned how to access supports and services for her basic needs. Despite past struggles, Lily was still hopeful and wanted her family to be together and happy for her daughter’s sake. After the EPO was lifted, Lily forced her husband to seek couple's counselling and Chinese translation was provided. After many sessions, they learned a healthier way of communicating and problem solving. Lily and Fred are now working together to rebuild their relationship and heal.

Lily is now able to make new friends, attend social activities and live a happy life. The change in her life after connecting with CIWA has left her feeling empowered and confident. Lily now smiles often and proudly says, “I have never been happy for the past 15 years but now I am.” 

*Names have been changed to protect client confidentiality


November 15, 2016

Bridging Communities through Strengthened Collaboration

By: The Calgary Domestic Violence Collective

On November 1, 2016 the Calgary Domestic Violence Collective (CDVC) launched its first annual Bridging Communities through Strengthened Collaboration conference in Calgary, AB.

Each year in Alberta, concerned citizens and community groups join together to recognize November as Family Violence Prevention Month.  This conference is part of our ongoing commitment to provide educational opportunities, increase public awareness and engage the community in ending family violence.

Earlier this month, it was reported that the Calgary Police Service had already surpassed its average number of domestic violence calls by 36 per cent at the end of September. 

On average, police respond to approximately 2055 domestic violence calls by this time of year. However, in 2016 alone they have already responded to a staggering 2796 calls. Each one of these calls represent a family. Domestic violence doesn't discriminate, impacted families include all races, sexual orientations, communities and demographics. 

With the increasing rates of domestic violence in Calgary, the inaugural Bridging Communities conference and its takeaways are more important than ever. 

Members of our collective welcomed guests with informational booths and conversation around the preventative and support mechanisms available to assist those who have been touched by domestic violence.

Mayor Naheed Nenshi addressing guests

Mayor Naheed Nenshi addressing guests

Mayor Naheed Nenshi issued a proclamation to commence Family Violence Prevention Month. Mayor Nenshi addressed the need for collaboration in our community and expressed our city’s strength in numbers in the fight to ending domestic violence. He also invited us to be a part of Canada’s sesquicentennial (a new word we all learned) by sharing the acts of giving we do as a domestic violence sector.

Staff Sgt. Rob Davidson and local media outlets conversing

Staff Sgt. Rob Davidson and local media outlets conversing

Calgary Police Staff Sgt. Rob Davidson spoke with media regarding the astounding statistics surrounding domestic violence in our city this past year and Karen Lee, a survivor of domestic violence shared her story – reminding us all that each statistic represents a vulnerable Calgarian who needs our support.

Calgary Herald covered those stats here.

Dr. Lori Haskell addressing guests

Dr. Lori Haskell addressing guests

Dr. Lori Haskell, who joined us from Toronto, inspired us to examine more deeply the intersection between trauma and domestic violence Dr. Haskell is an accomplished clinical psychologist whose expertise lies in trauma, re-victimization, sexual abuse and sexual violence in relation to psychological development. Dr. Haskell presented a comprehensive discussion detailing connections between trauma, domestic violence and social context.  Information about Lori Haskell and her book First-Stage-Trauma-Treatment-Professionals can be found here.

Dr. Lori Haskell, flanked by Sagesse Executive Director, Andrea Silverstone

Dr. Lori Haskell, flanked by Sagesse Executive Director, Andrea Silverstone

Following our keynote speaker, more than 200 sector professionals attended eight breakout sessions to explore various topics, workshops and response plans that are all working to help end domestic violence in our city.  Examples of sessions included updates on what is occurring in the area of elder abuse in Calgary, a workshop on intersection in domestic violence and sexual violence, research on how to engage rural communities in domestic violence programming and working collaboratively with traumatized families. A presentation on the Protection Against Family Violence Act (PAFVA) was also explored with attendees as well as a session specifically targeted towards engaging men and boys in the prevention of domestic violence.

Roselle Gonsalves, Calgary Communities Against Sexual Violence, presenting her session

Roselle Gonsalves, Calgary Communities Against Sexual Violence, presenting her session

 A full day of learning, networking and collaboration, CDVC’s Bridging Communities 2016 conference was a tremendous success.  Thank you to all who attended, our keynote speakers, presenters and everyone who worked tirelessly to make this event happen.  A special thank you also, to Mayor Nenshi for his attendance and to our local media for covering our event and the important statistics that our collective is working hard to change. 


October 26, 2016

Myths and Realities of Domestic Violence: Sexual Exploitation and Trafficking

 By: Courtney Sharma, Communications Coordinator, Servants Anonymous Society of Calgary

According to the Polaris Project, sex trafficking is defined as “a form of modern slavery that exists […] globally. Sex traffickers use violence, threats, lies, debt bondage, and other forms of coercion to compel adults and children to engage in commercial sex acts against their will.” The lack of understanding that domestic violence is imbedded in the complexity of sex trafficking can hinder a survivor’s efforts to find help.

Not only is domestic violence rampant among sex trafficking situations, the tactics of sex traffickers to control their victims are eerily similar to those applied to victims of domestic violence.  Traffickers retain victims in exploitative situations by ways of social isolation, forcible confinement, withholding identification documents, imposing strict rules, limitation of movement, as well as threats and violence to victims and their families.

According to a participant of Servant’s Anonymous Society (SAS), a collaborative member of the Calgary Domestic Violence Collective’, “In one instance, my pimp wanted to rent a new apartment, and wanted me to buy us a very expensive couch to go with it. I did what I had to do to make ends meet. I eventually started recruiting women when my pimp would ask. However, after a month’s rent and a damage deposit, there was not enough money left for our new couch. This upset him to the point where he beat me up so badly, I didn’t recognize myself in the mirror.”

Nonphysical tactics used by sex traffickers can be just as harmful. Many believe sex trafficking is synonymous with prostitution, implying the willful choice of a woman to sell sex. However, the reality is many victims are groomed, manipulated, and coerced to enter the sex trade by promises of love and understanding.  Another SAS participant recalled, “My first pimp trafficked me from the east coast to western Canada. Many times I wanted to leave, but I was brainwashed into believing I had nowhere to go.” It can be extremely dangerous for a victim in attempting to leave. Another past SAS Participant knows this firsthand: “I saw the opportunity to run away from my pimp and left, only to be kidnapped by him. I was then locked in a hotel room, unable to leave and working as much as he forced me to.”

Sex trafficking survivors are well acquainted with the cycle of violence, meaning the pattern of abuse that escalates over time, similar to other domestic violence relationships. “After he turned extremely physically abusive, I finally found the courage to leave him,” said a Past Participant of SAS of her first of what would turn into a number of pimps. “From that point on, I learned to always keep enough money to leave whichever pimp I was with at the time. However, working for a new pimp always ended in the same way: being abused so severely that I would finally leave, only to repeat the cycle with someone new.”

The transgenerational nature of domestic violence and sex trafficking alike is incredibly difficult to exit. Traumas early in life follow victims for years until they are able to break the cycle; a cycle passed onto them by family members who were abuse victims themselves. “As a child, I was sexually abused by my stepfather,” said a past participant of SAS. “This was the catalyst for my being drawn to older men, one in particular who eventually forced me to sell sex.”

Many assume that the typical sex trafficking survivor is poor and a visible minority. On the contrary, the RCMP stated in its report, ‘Domestic Human Trafficking for Sexual Exploitation in Canada’ (2013) that survivors are typically Caucasian and increasingly people from stable backgrounds. Furthermore, as with domestic violence, anyone can become a victim of sex trafficking. K.J. Wilson, author of ‘When Violence Begins At Home,’ stated the truth of the matter well: “If anything is truly equal opportunity, it is battering. Domestic violence crosses all socioeconomic, ethnic, racial, educational, age and religious lines.”