September is recognized across Canada as a time to Take Back the Night (TBTN). TBTN events are for those who have been hurt by domestic and sexual violence, their supporters and everyone who wants to live in a world free of violence. It is a time for communities to acknowledge gender-based violence against women and girls is a global issue that happens ‘here’ at home. Activities, include rallies, marches, dinners, coffee houses, and candlelight vigils. The events are designed to raise the awareness of safety issues for women and children, and to protest the harassment, sexual abuse, and assaults experienced by so many in our society. All people have the right to be free of violence and should be able to walk at night without fear.
In a recent Statistics Canada survey conducted in the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic, 10% of women and 6% of men reported that they were concerned about the possibility of violence in the home. The rise of domestic violence is not unique to Canada. Worldwide, rates of domestic abuse climbed steadily as countries went into lockdown mode. Since March of 2020, at least 1/2 of the world’s population has been or is currently in lockdown. Stuck at home with their abusers, often cut off from support systems, victims have found themselves facing an increased risk of abuse. Isolation is a powerful tool that many abusers use on their victims. During lockdowns, those experiencing abuse have become even more isolated from any supports, such as friends and family, the workplace, or social agencies.
There’s a lot of talk about father-daughter relationships. How a father can teach his daughter about love, about what a good partner looks like, about how to respect herself. These are all very important, of course. But, what about father-son relationships? Isn’t it just as important for a father to teach his son about love and what a respectful relationship looks like? Of course it is! With Father’s Day right around the corner, we want to share lessons on how dads can teach their children (sons AND daughters) all about healthy relationships. Whether you have a daughter or a son, the cornerstones of love and respect look the same.
While everyone will experience this time differently, a generalized sense of anxiety and uncertainty is floating through the air. Some people may be quarantined with their family or small children, while others will be entirely alone. In some situations, women and children will be stuck at home with their abusive partner. Shelters and women’s advocacy centres are working at maximum capacities in many cities, with some also lacking resources and support. Feelings of fear and loneliness can be common.
May is Sexual Assault Awareness Month in Canada. Sexual assault, and sexual violence more broadly, is something that’s become increasingly prevalent in news stories and on social media. It’s not that sexual violence itself is increasing-- rates of sexual assault seem to have remained consistent for over ten years -- it’s just that our awareness of these experiences have continued to evolve. Since #MeToo stories burst into the spotlight at the end of 2017, there has been increasing momentum to not only talk about experiences of sexual violence, but to understand why they are so common and hopefully put a stop to them.
We are learning hard lessons about pandemics and the kind of actions that can save lives. Violence committed against women and girls, because they are female, has been described as a pandemic. It is a public health threat that is prevalent, sometimes fatal and global.
The recent worldwide outbreak of COVID-19 has brought about something that most of us have never seen before: a near complete shut-down of daily life as we know it. Schools and daycare centres have been shuttered; restaurants, nightclubs, concert halls, and other businesses have been forced to close their doors; some companies are having employees work from home, while others have laid off workers indefinitely.While these closures are necessary in order to stop a devastating spread of this virus, there is a stark and equally devastating side effect to this reality that many people are fortunate enough to know nothing about: an increase in family violence.
With the lead up to the global day celebration women and women’s rights, news headlines have been detailing the issues that women worldwide continue to face: lack of freedom, education, access to resources, and necessary supports, to name a few.
Pink Shirt Day, otherwise known as Anti-Bullying Day, is a day when people wear a pink shirt to symbolize the unified stand against bullying. It’s an idea that originated in Canada and has since spread across the country. It’s a positive step in teaching children and youth not only about the importance of kindness, but also about the risks and repercussions of bullying itself.
This past year has been full of change. The #MeToo movement has continued gaining momentum, giving courage to many women to come forward, and helping to give voices to those who are unable to speak out loud on these important issues. At Neighbours, Friends and Families, we have continued to focus on educating the general public about domestic abuse while also discussing issues that are becoming more mainstream or need to be at the forefront of issues, especially through our blog.