They say, “silence is golden,” but when it comes to some topics and conversations, silence is doing much more harm than good – and it is speaking volumes.
With the rise of women’s activism in the form of #MeToo and Time’s Up, a global dialogue has opened on sexual misconduct in the workplace. These movements have directly led to the firing or public fallout of notable executives and influential men who have more than crossed the line (cue: Harvey Weinstein, Bill Cosby, Jacob Hoggard and sadly many more), but there is still one topic that remains relatively untouched – domestic violence.
Take a look around your office today, and note the women in your workplace.
Now, let this harrowing statistic sink in: Approximately every five days, a woman in Canada is killed by her intimate partner.
Imagine losing one of your female colleagues every workweek at the hands of violence by her partner.
It’s beyond saddening, it’s inconceivable.
And it needs to stop.
However, when it comes to tackling this societal issue, it’s typically the same people speaking up, seeking change and raising funds. And more often than not, the onus of resolving the issue falls on women. While women are more prone to being at the hands of the abuse (with 7 in 10 people who experience family violence being women or girls), like any societal issue, we need both genders at the table willing to fight and advocate for change.
Some men might argue that it’s uncomfortable to broach the issue, or that they might inherently feel excluded from the conversation. But luckily, Women’s Shelters Canada has conceived an innovative new initiative, Strengthening Ties, that provides a concrete and accessible way for them to help end violence against women.
Strengthening Ties is a specific call to men to become a part of this initiative by taking a financial pledge. The first of its kind in Canada, Women’s Shelters Canada’s is seeking founding donors to pledge $1,000 a year for three years. With 55 notable men already signed up as donors like Phil Soper, President of Royal LePage Real Estate Services, Matt Varey, Senior Vice President of RBC and Dave Friesema, CEO and Director of Sleep Country Canada, to name a few, it’s promising to see Canadian male leaders take on an issue that has for too long been kept behind closed doors. It’s small actionable steps like this, that will inspire others to make a difference, or at the very least, bring attention to a critical issue.
This year, to date, there have been at least 67 women who have been murdered in Canada within the first five months, and in many of those instances, a partner or former partner has been implicated.
So, how can we make a difference and help those women who may be suffering in silence?
Here are some tips:
1. If you know someone who you think is experiencing domestic violence, talk to him or her and encourage them to open up. Be empathic and concerned in your approach and avoid being rude, judgemental or aggressive. Be understanding that it may take time for someone to confide in you, so don’t just ask once and assume the person will never open up again.
2. Listen fully and believe what the person is telling you. Too often people dismiss someone’s disclosure, and this is what causes victims to not speak out or to place blame on themselves.
3. Be supportive and avoid passing judgment. It takes a lot of courage and strength for someone to leave an abusive situation, and more often than not, it takes many times before a victim leaves for good. Do not criticize this person, instead, offer support and guidance where and when you can.
5. Donate to or volunteer with organizations that provide services, resources or tools for women experiencing domestic violence or abuse such as the YWCA, Women’s Shelters Canada, Canadian Women’s Foundation.
Anyone – both male or female – can play a part in preventing domestic violence. And when we all come together, that's when we will see real and lasting change ignite.
If you are personally suffering from domestic violence, please contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-79-7233 or your local YMCA Crisis Hotline.
If you are in immediate danger, please call 911.