Women’s shelter launches new campaign to get people talking about what is hidden in plain sight

Hidden signs of abuse

The campaign is called Hidden In Plain Sight and the aim is to get people talking about domestic abuse.

“Starting conversations, having discussions no matter how difficult they are about domestic abuse is necessary and we welcome conversations. We welcome people getting curious about the issue. That’s how we’ll break the stigma” said Allison McLauchlan, executive director, Kelowna Women’s Shelter.

McLauchlan admits it's difficult to know who is being abused, but there are some warning signs.

“For example, if somebody that always does the school run is not there for a couple of days and the kids are getting dropped off by someone else. Little things like that. For example, missing work.

“It’s really hard with domestic abuse because the women have been surviving it for many, many years and they’ve found a way to cope. They’ve found a way to keep the outside world from looking in because it’s unsafe if anybody does catch a glimpse.”

The campaign will be rolled out starting with a blog next week on the Kelowna Women’s Shelter website and through social media. The initial post will be about gaslighting.

“We will just be continuing to put the word out there, to get people to share it. Also, we’ll be engaging on any conversation on our posts,” explains Candace Homan, communications coordinator for the Kelowna Women’s Shelter.

“So, people can read that and all it takes is one person to share it with one person that might be the person that really needed to see it that day,” she adds.

McLauchlan notes that often people ask why a woman doesn’t leave an abusive relationship. She wants to shift the conversation.

“Nobody ever talks about the perpetrator. Why does he choose to abuse? Why does he manipulate? Why does he gaslight?

“We always put the focus on her and we always ask her to change. We never put any emphasis on him.”

She used to work in Alberta, where there was a court-mandated counselling program for abusers, and she would like to see something similar here.

“Men who choose to abuse need to be supported and resources so that that doesn’t continue to be something that their core beliefs and values tell them that they have the right to do,” said McLauchlan.

She said it needs to be a very well thought out program, and the legal system needs to play a vital role in making it a success.

Survivors of abuse were asked for their comments on the Hidden In Plain Sight campaign before it was launched and the overwhelming feedback was that the images in the posts looked ‘too happy’. So the shelter went back to the drawing board and came up with what it hopes are images that will start necessary conversations in the community.

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