From November 25-December 10, we took part in the 16 Days of Action on Violence Against Women remembered all of the women tragically and violently taken from us. We talked about the importance of providing more homeless shelter options and models for women who require a place to live, especially when fleeing an abusive partner. And we shared a powerful memoir detailing the pain and effects that a domestic violence murder trial has on loved ones. While we honour these women and advocate for change every single day, these poignant two weeks highlight the severity of this issue that affects women all around the world, across every socio-economic level and nationality. We cannot forget that we live in a world where women are still killed every single day, just because they are female.
Many years have passed since my daughter Natalie, was murdered, yet over and over again I will become transfixed by the news of a woman’s murder trial. Most recently the trials of Laura Babcock in Hamilton and the triple murders of Anastasia Kuzyk, Nathalie Warmerdam, and Carol Culleton being heard in Ottawa have preoccupied me. I identify with the family members and friends sitting in those courtrooms and enduring the indignities of a murder trial. Each day has the potential of devastation or personal annihilation. What will be said, what will be learned.
The World Health Organization reports that a third of women worldwide in intimate relationships will experience violence at the hands of their partners. The Canadian Observatory on Homelessness identifies that 27.3% of total homelessness populations are women but these statistics do not include the over 100,000 women and children who flee their homes due to violence every year. It has been estimated that if those women and children were included in the total, that the percentage could be 50% or more.
Domestic violence is an issue that affects us all. You might have even experienced it firsthand yourself. Or maybe you have a friend, a family member, or a co-worker who has been in an abusive relationship. There’s also a chance that someone you know has experienced violence at the hand of a partner, but you’re not even aware of it. Domestic violence is far-reaching and the emotional, physical and financial implications can be long-lasting, especially when it comes to mental health. From November 25th to December 10th, we’re joining in the 16 Days of Action to help end domestic violence. Each day, we’ll outline a different action that we can all take to help reduce this worldwide issue.
The reporting coming out of the US on the mass killings in Texas this past weekend is difficult to watch. As stories and images surface, we are stunned by the horror of innocent people, including children and babies, trapped and terrorized inside the walls of a church by an armed man on a killing rampage. How could this happen? CNN reporters have been focused on the purposeful selection of the church as the location for the massacre. A church is supposed to be a sacred place, a sanctuary from the world. What does it mean that he chose this place to unburden himself so violently?
Tis the season...to be generous? While philanthropy and volunteering is always much needed in our society, it seems that the time around the holidays (Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, etc.) seems to have special meaning for many and also entices a greater influx of donations and volunteering efforts. Women’s shelters are also often thought of this time of year, whether it’s because there is a need for coats, hats and mitts, or because many times, there are children staying at the shelters who celebrate these holidays and, of course, also deserve to feel special.
Domestic violence. It can happen to anyone. It doesn’t discriminate. And the effects of an abusive relationship are far-reaching. Leaving an abusive relationship can be extremely difficult and dangerous for many women. With the right resources and supports in place, we are hoping to help as many women as possible. But we also know that the effects of domestic violence continue long after a woman has left an abusive relationship. And, in the case of a child witnessing or experiencing violence at home, these effects can be severely detrimental to his or her development and future relationships.
What do mass shootings and domestic violence have in common? A lot, actually. As history shows, there’s a very strong link between shootings and domestic abuse or highly misogynistic behaviour. After each mass shooting, evidence often emerges that shows the perpetrator, who is almost always male, was abusive to a spouse, former spouse or other women. As we already know, domestic violence begins in the home but can then easily escalate. .
The benefits of mindfulness are being experienced and spoken of world-wide which is very exciting. More and more people are beginning to experience when they take time to stop, go inward and train their mind to be still, a depth of healing happens on many different levels. This has been my experience – and it all started 23 years ago when I went on my first meditation retreat on Vancouver Island. For most of my life, I was going nonstop. My life was chaotic and so was my mind. I was desperately searching for peace, love and fulfillment on the outside - in relationships, work, you name it. And it was nowhere to be found.
Abuse can happen to anyone, at any time. Age, gender, race or socio-economic status have no bearing when it comes to abuse. We all have a role to play in the fight against abuse and domestic violence. Friends, family members and neighbours can all make a positive difference. They’re also the ones who are most likely the first to notice warning signs of abuse, which is why it’s so crucial that everyone is aware of these warning signs. We all have a shared responsibility to promote respect for all members in our society and help anyone we know who is being abused. Elder abuse is more common than many people realize and can happen in a variety of ways.