Canadian federal election: Key issues we care about

Category : Blog

The 2019 Canadian federal election is coming up, and as always, we’re putting the women we serve at the centre.

According to the Canadian Femicide Observatory for Justice and Accountability, in 2018, 148 women were killed in Canada. That is a woman killed every 2.5 days. Violence against women is a public health crisis. However, it is not the cause of women’s inequity, it is a symptom.

We hope that the next government will invest in a national strategy that addresses the root causes of discrimination and violence against women and girls. Such a strategy would:

Address the root causes of discrimination and violence against women

  • Invest in education. Celebrate and acknowledge the diversity of race, sex, sexual orientation, and gender expressions in the mosaic that makes up Canada. Educate children, youth, and the community at large to eliminate misogynistic and patriarchal practices that lead to gender-based violence and violence against women. Sexual and domestic violence against women and girls are the results of a misogynistic culture that normalizes male entitlement to women and girls’ bodies.
  • Address sex-based crimes by collecting accurate statistical information and by holding perpetrators of violence against women accountable.
  • Address discrimination and violence against gender non-conforming individuals without erasure of women from language, data collection, policies, and laws.
  • Adequately fund women’s shelters and women’s rape crisis centres to provide quality services for women and children fleeing violence. This will also enable women’s organizations to strategize and respond to the local needs of our communities effectively and work towards breaking the cycle of violence.

Childcare

  • Create a universal childcare system: Access to childcare enables women to go to school, work, and gain financial independence. Women working contributes to the growth of the economy.

Housing

  • Maintain a national housing strategy: Women can only leave domestic violence situations if they have access to safe, secure, and affordable housing.

Address poverty and reducing barriers

  • Establish a universal Guaranteed Livable Income (GLI) program to replace the current variety of income supports. Those earning above a certain total income would pay the GLI back in taxes. This program would eliminate women’s economic dependence on abusers and drastically reduce the exploitation of women and girls.

In this upcoming Canadian federal election, you can decide if our next government takes action to end violence against women and girls. We hope you’ll keep these issues in mind as you prepare to make your way to the ballot box this week.


Five myths about violence against women

Category : Blog

Violence against women has long been seen as a private problem. With the growth of feminism and the rise of the #MeToo movement, we’re slowly but surely beginning to realize that keeping domestic violence “behind closed doors” endangers women. Still, the topic isn’t often discussed, and that can lead to some misconceptions. In this blog post, we’re busting five myths about violence against women.

Myth #1: Abuse is always physical

Violence against women presents itself differently in every situation and can take many forms, whether physical, emotional, sexual, or financial.

Physical abuse can include pushing, throwing objects, punching, threatening to hurt you, reckless driving, refusing to help when you’re sick or pregnant, or leaving you in dangerous places.

Emotional abuse can include ignoring your feelings, refusing to share money, preventing you from working, ridiculing, humiliation, threatening to hurt you or your family, or threatening to kidnap your children.

Sexual abuse can include rape, forcing particular unwanted sexual acts, forcing sex after physical abuse, using derogatory language, minimizing the importance of your feelings about sex, telling anti-women jokes, or making demeaning remarks about women.

Financial abuse can include controlling how money is spent, withholding money, or not allowing a woman to work or earn money.

Associating “abuse” with just physical or sexual acts ignores the experiences of women who face many other forms of abuse. It can also make it more difficult for women to recognize other dangerous behaviour in their partners.

Myth #2: Violence against women only affects certain groups of women

Violence against women knows no boundaries and does not discriminate based on socioeconomic status, education, race, culture, and so on.

A survey we conducted in 2018 of women who had participated in Wenda’s Place Second Stage program found that 80% of participants had post-secondary education. More than the majority of the women who stayed at Dixon Transition House last year were Canadian citizens.

Though violence against women affects women of every race, socioeconomic or educational status, and so on, it’s also important to recognize that, due to historical and current discrimination and prejudice, Indigenous women are disproportionately impacted by violence. The rate of self-reported violent victimization among Aboriginal women in 2009 was about 2.5 times higher than the rate for non-Aboriginal women.

At Dixon, we are striving to ensure that Indigenous women feel safe and supported when accessing our services. Thanks to Civil Forfeiture grants, we’ve hired a staff member to build a strong, culturally safe, Indigenous component to our programs. This year, we also hosted a collaborative learning event for transitional housing programs to facilitate discussion about how to best support Indigenous women who access transitional housing services.

Transitional housing service providers seated around multiple round tables while Dixon's Housing Outreach Worker, Jasmine, presents behind a podium, gesturing to a flip chart
Dixon Transition Society’s “Serving Indigenous Women” event, held in May 2019.

Myth #3: Both partners are responsible for the violence

Only the abuser is responsible for his abusive and violent behaviour.

As part of the abuser’s emotional manipulation and coercion, women are often led to believe that their behaviour causes their abuser’s actions. Although abusers may attempt to justify their behaviour with blame or denial, violence is never acceptable and is never the victim’s fault.

Myth #4: I don’t hear much about violence against women, so it must not be common

As we’ve said, domestic violence happens behind closed doors and there are many reasons you don’t hear about it.

Women often do not report to authorities because they do not want the abuser to go to jail, or from fear of retaliation. They may be considering children, pets, or other family members. Women may also be hesitant to share their experience with friends and family due to fear or shame. It’s also important to consider that the moment of leaving a domestic violence situation is often the most dangerous for women because it is when an abuser’s power is most threatened and he has nothing to lose. Femicide often happens at the time of leaving.

The truth is that femicide is overwhelmingly common, to the point of being an epidemic: in Canada, one woman or girl is killed every other day, on average, and about once a week, a woman in is killed by her male partner.

Myth #5: Domestic violence is a personal issue that should be handled by the people in the relationship

Violence against women is a crime and a symptom of a misogynistic culture. The safety and success of women is directly linked to social health, and that makes addressing domestic violence the responsibility of the community.

If you or someone you know requires our services, you can call our 24-hour intake line at our transition house at 604-298-3454. However, if you are in danger, please call 911.

For further resources, you can visit our Resources page.

You can also contribute to a culture that keeps women safe by inviting Dixon Transition Society to come and speak to your team. We speak on topics like:

  • the causes and impact of violence against women
  • how to support co-workers who may be experiencing violence
  • how Dixon makes a difference in the community.
Dixon Transition Society’s Executive Director, Pany, and Manager of Operations & Services, Claire, present on Project Impact at our 2018 Donor & Volunteer Appreciation Event.

Frequently asked questions

Category : Blog

How long are women allowed to stay in your programs?

Dixon Transition House is intended to be a 30-day stay.

Wenda’s Place, Second Stage Housing, is intended to be up to a two-year stay.

Our Third Stage Housing is intended to be up to a three-year stay.

However, women often stay longer (at the transition house) or shorter (at Second and Third Stage) than intended due to the availability of safe and affordable permanent housing, or lack thereof.

Why do women come? What was going on in their lives?

We serve women and children who are fleeing/at risk of violence or abuse. That violence comes in a variety of forms (often in combination), including physical, sexual, emotional, or financial abuse. The perpetrators of abuse are the men in their lives, who are most often their intimate partners or other immediate family members.

However, the truth is that the story of “why they come” is far less interesting than the stories of their active resistance and resilience. We believe that it’s important to re-center the narrative around the incredible, resilient women who bravely choose to leave these dangerous situations and then seek a safe life for themselves and their children.

How do women hear about you?

Women find out about us in a number of different ways, including Google, local law enforcement, Victim Services BC, other social services and help lines, or word of mouth. To find out more, read our blog post about how women find out about our programs.

Are there lots of young children staying with you?

Yes, there are often many children staying with us at any given time. Across all our programs, 82% of the women we served last year had children.

The ages of the children ages do vary, though. For example, in 2017, 47% of the children we served were 0-6 years old. In contrast, in 2018, children in that age range made up 35% of the children we served.

Are most women immigrants?

Most of the women we serve are Canadian citizens, whether since birth or more recently. Last year, 57.1% of the women we served at Dixon Transition House were Canadian citizens.

However, our programs and staff reflect the diversity of Canadian culture. For example, we have a multilingual staff. Additionally, women at the transition house are able to request specific items for groceries so that they can cook the food they’re used to cooking. We also work with a variety of different agencies for translation or multicultural needs.

Do women still really need this service? Do people really come to the transition house?

Unfortunately, yes. Last year, we received 2,986 calls for space and turned away 1,493 women and children at risk of violence due to lack of space.

Furthermore, our evaluation and research into our programs shows that Dixon is more than just a bed. In particular, women living in our transitional housing programs create a powerful community for themselves. That community, combined with the services we offer, lifts women up and builds on their resiliency.

What kind of support does Dixon provide?

Housing is often the first step, and it’s vital to the process of rebuilding a life after violence, but we also provide programs and services to sustain women’s success and meet the needs of children.

Specifically, our trained and compassionate staff—such as Women’s Support Workers, Child Support Workers, Housing Outreach Worker, Counsellors—provide unconditional support and advocacy; emotional support; information about other resources; child-minding as much as possible; support with income assistance, legal aid, finding permanent housing after their stay at Dixon; and the list goes on. Above all, we do our best to show women that they are not alone.

If someone I know is experiencing violence, what can I do to help?

Most importantly, be supportive. You can say things like: “You did nothing to deserve this,” “I’m here to support you,” and “You are not alone.”

In our work, we respect the choices women make about their own lives, and you should do the same: those choices might be seeking services like ours, reporting to law enforcement, or even taking no further action beyond sharing with you as a trusted individual.

If you or someone you know is in need of our services, you can always call our 24-hour intake line at our transition house at 604-298-3454. However, if you are in danger, please call 911.

How can I help your organization?

Thank you so much for asking! The generosity and activism of community members like you forms the foundation of Dixon Transition Society.

You can get involved at Dixon by:

You didn’t answer my questions!

Email operations@dixonsociety.ca or call 604-433-4191 (during regular business hours).


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