We’ve spent a long weekend of get-togethers, fireworks, and celebrating our country with Canada Day festivities. Now is a good time to look back and reflect on how our how we have made progress in handling cases of domestic violence. Generally we know that we’ve made great strides in recognizing and responding to domestic violence, but we also know that a significant part of the picture of violence and abuse in our homes remains obscured from view. This under-reporting can affect resource allocation and other policy decisions. The latest (2014) report on domestic violence from Statistics Canada features an in-depth analysis of self-reported incidents of spousal violence, with data from 2014 General Social Survey (GSS) on victimization. The information gathered from victims is crucial to understanding family violence across Canada.
When I was first asked to write a blog post in honour of Canada’s National Aboriginal Day on June 21, my first thought was of my recently passed Grandmother June McKay, because her birthday is on June 21. I recently had the pleasure of speaking with my grandmother’s cousin and close friend, Geraldine Robertson. Like my grandmother, Geraldine is also a strong, resilient, and beautiful First Nations woman. Geraldine is a residential school survivor. On May 5, Geraldine and I sat down for tea at her home on Aamjiwnaang First Nation. We discussed resiliency, making connections, and how she has supported other survivors to begin their healing journeys. In recognition of her work raising awareness about the legacy of residential schools, Geraldine was recently inducted into the Order of Ontario.
“She’s the glue that holds us together.” It’s not uncommon to hear these words spoken about moms, both young and old. When it comes to the family system, the reality is that many times, moms are the one who keep the day-to-day dealings of the family running smoothly. The physical and mental workload of raising a family is big, and moms are often responsible for much of it. But what if mom doesn’t have anyone looking out for her own well-being? Worse yet, what if the mom is being abused?
Humour and healing – there’s growing recognition of the powerful connection between a belly laugh and recovery from trauma. Whether you’re dealing with the stress and trauma that victims and survivors of abuse commonly suffer or you want to support someone who is, laughter can make things better. In fact, even the anticipation of laughter can boost your mood and relieve anxiety. Laughing releases endorphins, the feel-good hormones that make you feel happy. It relieves physical tension and stress and can help your muscles relax. Tenths of a second after you hear a punch line, a wave of electrical activity sweeps through your entire cortex, triggering positive physical changes in your brain. And it’s good for your heart because it increases oxygen in your blood and boosts circulation.
Domestic violence is a serious problem, but it’s not just a concern for adults. Young adults, especially teenagers, are often vulnerable to dating violence, in part because they haven’t been taught anything about it. Think back to your own foray into the teen years. Do you recall having conversations with your parents, educators, or even peers, about healthy vs. unhealthy relationships? Chances are, the answer is no. The dreaded “sex talks” that so many teens and parents alike faced, usually had nothing to do with dating abuse or the signs of an unhealthy relationship. Yet, these are key pieces we need to be teaching youth, from an early age.
You don’t have to go far to read about the potential health benefits of yoga – both for the body and the mind. However, for women and children who have experienced violence, being present in the body that has been the site of physical or sexual abuse, or receiving hands on adjustments, has the potential to trigger memories of past traumatic experiences. Trauma-Informed Yoga adapts traditional yoga techniques such as grounding exercises; simple yoga postures (asana); meditation; and therapeutic breath-work (pranayama) to make it more accessible and safe for individuals with experiences of violence. It focuses on safety, choice, and empowerment: invitational language and a no-touch, no-assist approach are used.
April 4th marks the day for Refugee Rights! This day is an opportunity for people around the world to recognize war as a major violation of human rights as well as the impact that war has on humanity at large, and refugees in particular. When a war occurs, refugees are uprooted from their countries. They leave their life, dreams, and aspirations to shift into a survival mode that is dark and uncertain. Refugees have the right to live, exist, and thrive wherever they go. They are valuable to the countries that receive them, as both social capital and contributors. Children of these refugees will be part of the future of the host countries. The vulnerability that refugees face motivates their resiliency, which has them continuously adjusting to harsh circumstances, coping with what they have in order to safeguard their families.
A woman and her two children were killed by a former partner. And no, it’s not her fault. Another tragic case of domestic violence in Ontario. A 39-year-old woman and two of her young teenage children were found murdered inside their home. A man who was romantically involved with the woman is now charged with three counts of second degree murder. A community is reeling. A third child had two siblings and her mom brutally ripped from her life. A father is grieving the loss of two of his children and their mother. To most of us it seems unfathomable to even consider blaming on the mother for her own tragic death. Yet, shockingly, victim blaming has reared its ugly head.
Join us in celebrating International Women's Day on March 8th! We've prepared a fun and informative video all about the amazing and inspirational Canadian women who have helped fight for women's rights and against injustice. We hope you take the time to watch it and share with others.
In recent years, there’s been a big movement to move away from gender stereotypes when it comes to career choices. We’re seeing more more women in the fields of science and technology, areas traditionally dominated by men. Encouraging little girls to follow their interests, which often include science, will eventually help us break the career barriers in this field. Let’s start by encouraging a love of all things science from a very early age.