Shelter Awareness  

Violence Against Women Week

The third week of April has been designated as Prevention of Violence Against Women Week in British Columbia. It is a week set aside to focus attention on the issue of family violence and on the abuse experienced by women and their children in our community. It is a week to encourage a community response that will serve to prevent violence and abuse.

Most often we are only aware of family violence and intimate partner abuse if it touches our lives in some direct way or when headlines draw our attention to incidents at the extreme end of the continuum of violence; incidents in which a woman or children are horrifically injured or killed, when charges are laid, when trials and convictions and sentences make the news. Sadly enough, incidents that make the headlines are only the tip of the iceberg, with statistics indicating that countless women and children experience violence and abuse that goes unreported and undocumented. The unfortunate reality is that women and children in our province and in our community are being abused and are experiencing violence within their families and within their relationships.

Because family violence occurs in families of all socio-economic classes, educational levels, races, cultures, religions, and age groups, there is a strong likelihood that at some point each of us will come into contact with a woman or child impacted by abuse. Whether we recognize it or not, it is there and it is happening, perhaps to the woman sitting at the desk in the next office, or the woman at the counter in the bank or at the next table in a restaurant, perhaps to the woman down the street with the lovely home, or to someone in your circle of friends.

This week is set aside to make each of us aware of the issue of family violence and intimate partner abuse, to recognize that women and children in our community experience violence and abuse and that there is a need to create an effective response to this issue. This week is meant to encourage each of us to do what we can to prevent violence directed at women and children. During this week, perhaps we will think about this unfortunate reality and feel concern that will gradually fade in the weeks to come ….unless, of course, we commit to bringing about change by carrying forward what we know and what we can do beyond this week– each of us, individually, and all of us together.

What if in every week we focused on creating safety for all in our community? What if every day of every week throughout the year, we each chose to do what we could to respond to and prevent violence and abuse and to encourage respect and safety. What might that look like and what difference would it make?

The first and most obvious step would be that we each commit to behaving respectfully and creating safety in our own lives and relationships. The second step would be that we each refuse to ignore or, by our silence, condone violent, abusive or disrespectful behaviours. Thirdly, we must be willing to be courageous and choose to speak up, stand up, intervene or call for help when we are witness to violent, abusive or disrespectful behaviour. Fourth, we must support victims of violence and abuse in tangible and meaningful ways that help them to move forward to safer and better futures. And fifth, we must recognize the need to provide services to perpetrators of violence and abuse who must not only be held accountable for their actions and behaviours, but be provided the opportunity and the skills to change as well.

We must coordinate our efforts and join together to support each other as we strive to create safety for all in our community – women, children, youth, seniors, and men. Let’s make this Prevention of Violence week bring change in our lives and in our community.

Abuse is never okay….asking for help is. If you need help or know of someone who does, please call the Kelowna Women’s Shelter @ 250 763-1040.

More Shelter Awareness articles

About the Author

April, 2011 marks the 31st anniversary of the day the Kelowna Women’s Shelter opened its’ doors to offer counselling, support and a safe residence for women and children whose lives have been impacted by family violence, abuse and significant crisis. The Kelowna Women’s Shelter is a place of refuge for women who are not safe in their own homes, women who have been beaten, traumatized, threatened, and have fled in terror from a partner. Our staff and volunteers provide services to women and children in the area boundaried by Oyama to the North and Peachland to the South. For more information visit kelownawomensshelter.ca or call 250-763-1040

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

Previous Stories