When conversation turns to domestic violence, the same question always comes up, so let's address that right away.
Why don't women in violent relationships just leave?
There are many reasons. These include:
- Death threats: often, the abuser has threatened to kill them, a pet, or their children.
- Money: many women are financially dependent on their partners, and leaving means facing poverty (possibly along with their children).
- Psychological warfare: "Domestic abuse is... a gradual process, with the frequency of assaults and seriousness of the violence slowly escalating over time. Since abusers often express deep remorse and promise to change, it can take years for women to admit that the violence will never stop... In the meantime, the long-term experience of being abused can destroy women’s self-confidence, making it more difficult to believe they deserve better treatment, that she can find the courage to leave, or can manage on their own" (CWF).
Is it a problem in Canada?
Absolutely. While we all like to think it couldn't happen to us or those we love, the statistics are startling. According to the Canadian Women's Foundation:
- In 2010, the rate of intimate partner homicide committed against females increased by 19%. This was the third increase in four years.
- Many women are experiencing violence after leaving their abuser.
- Victims are now LESS likely to report an incident to police.
HomeFront Calgary is a local organization that links the justice system, police and child services to provide families with support to overcome domestic violence. Today, they are launching a public awareness campaign called MyHomeFront. The campaign will blanket the city with logos on over 800 taxis, featuring the ASL symbol for "love."
HomeFront chose this symbol to show victims of domestic violence that they are deserving of love, and that they are surrounded by a community that cares.
You can support the campaign by uploading a "selfie of support" to Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter. Include the the love sign, and use the hashtag #myhomefront.
Imagine that you have a friend, a co-worker, or a family member who is facing domestic violence. The abuser in this relationship is relying on the woman's fear to keep her silent, and her silence to keep her isolated.
Let's show victims of domestic violence that they are not alone, and that they have our support and love. Upload your selfie today, and follow it up with some meaningful conversations with the men and women in your life. Let's shine a light into this dark corner of Calgary.
You can also donate time or money to any of the following amazing charities:
The Canadian Women's Foundation
Calgary Women's Emergency Shelter
Awo Taan Healing Lodge
If someone you know is being abused and is in immediate danger, call 911.