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?
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.
Violence against women is, sadly, still highly prevalent. As we’ve talked about before, domestic abuse can happen to anyone, regardless of socio-economic status, age, race or occupation. Even women in some of the most prominent places in society are not immune to domestic violence. In today’s technological-heavy society, a new form of abuse has emerged that quite often has devastating results. It’s called online violence. This type of violence can take many forms.
There’s a strong correlation between domestic violence and education. Equipping women with an understanding of what constitutes domestic violence and providing information about how to safely leave an abusive relationship can be instrumental in ensuring that women are able to leave a violent relationship. In developing countries, programs that educate both men and women on respectful relationships as well as gender equality, have proven to be extremely helpful for challenging gender stereotypes, creating equal partnerships and decreasing domestic violence rates. Working against cultural stereotypes that reinforce acceptance of inequality and providing opportunities for education can open routes through which girls are able to escape violent family relationships and help end cycles of abuse.
“Grampa’s leaving now. Would you like to give him a hug or a high five?” we asked as my father-in-law was leaving our home. My five-year old ran in for a big bear hug but my two year old decided she wasn’t in the mood for a hug. She did, however, feel up to giving a little high five. Thankfully, Grampa was completely fine with it and understood that in our home, we don’t force hugs and kisses.