battered women’s support services

My Friend is Experiencing Intimate Partner Violence, How Can I Help?

cryingThis post is a Battered Women’s Support Services publication, originally posted at the Ending Violence blog. Cross-posted with permission.

When our friend, family member, loved one is living with abuse by an intimate partner, we have a key role in supporting their journey.

You may be the only person that they can trust.  Please read on for tips and tools and become an empowered bystander with the knowledge to help a friend.

Violence in an intimate relationship is a systematic pattern of domination, where the abuser uses abusive tactics designed to maintain power and control over the woman.  The Power and Control Wheel was developed by Domestic Violence Intervention Program based in Duluth, Minnesota.  The P and C Wheel provides a good illustration of the tactics used by an abuser.

Remember:  You may be the only person your friend can trust.  Be attentive, believe what she says, tell her you care, and show her you are willing to help.

•    Reassure your friend that she does not cause the abuse.  An abuser learned to use violence as a way of expressing anger or frustration long before he/she met your friend.
•    Physical safety is the first priority.  Women frequently minimize the violence because abuse usually gets worse over time.  Ignoring the abuse is dangerous.  Explain this to your friend and help her to make an emergency safety plan by obtaining transition house phone numbers and considering police and legal protection.
•    Tell your friend she is not alone.  Abuse happens to many women, of all income and educational levels, in all social classes, in all religious and ethnic groups.
•    If she is not ready at this point to make major changes in her life, do not take your friendship away from your friend.  Your support may be what will make it possible for her to act at a later date.
•    Give your friend BWSS’s brochures, website link, which have information and resources of help for women.
•    Help your friend with her self-esteem.  Tell her what you admire about her; why you  value her as a friend; what are her strengths and special qualities.
•    Support her emotions:  fear, anger, hope, grief in the loss of her relationships, etc.
•    Help with children:  they need support for their feelings, to know the reality of what is going on, to know they are not to blame. Read more

Posted on by Jarrah Hodge in Feminism Leave a comment

Raising Awareness of Youth Dating Violence

coverby Rona Amiri, Battered Women’s Support Services YOUth Ending Violence Consultant. Originally posted at the BWSS Ending Violence blog. Re-posted with permission.

February is Youth Dating Violence Awareness Month! Battered Women’s Support Services YOUth Ending Violence Prevention Program will be taking this month to provide awareness about violence in youth dating relationships. As part of creating greater awareness we will be presenting facts and statistics, we will discuss ways in which we can interrupt sexist and abusive behaviour, the role boys and young men have in ending violence and finally the role of media.

Youth dating violence is a pattern of domination where different tactics/tools are used to maintain power and control of ones partner. It is also important to understand that youth dating violence is also a form of gender violence. We know that girls between the ages of 15-19 experience 10 times more violence in relationships then young men. This is why it is critical to have both girls and boys involved in ending violence in youth relationships. It is Important for boys and young men to take action against sexist and abusive behaviors. The reality is that boys and young men are expected to be tough and in control so violent behavior is often seen as an appropriate way to express themselves within relationships. Fundamental inequalities and sexism in our society lead to abuse against girls and young women because they are often objectified.

Our YOUth Ending Violence program provides youth with the knowledge to recognize what dating violence is as well as how to prevent it, support friends who may be in an abusive relationship and have a discussion around what they want in a healthy relationship. We also look at the roots of violence and discuss the role of media and societal expectations of what it means to be feminine and masculine.

Four ways you can spread awareness this month:

  1. Share this post!
  2. Use the strength of social media! Like and share our Facebook page and invite more people to the discussion on youth dating violence.
  3. Follow us on Twitter! We look forward to hearing your thoughts @YOUEndViolence
  4. Book a YOUth Ending Violence workshop here!

Posted on by Battered Women's Support Services in Can-Con, Feminism 1 Comment

Hotline for Harassed Women RCMP Officers

by Roxanna Bennett

Today a national hotline will be implemented for female RCMP officers and others who have experienced sexual harassment at the hands of the police. The service will be staffed by Battered Women’s Support Services, offering confidential emotional support and referrals to legal services.

The launch of the service was spurred by the public statements of Cpl. Catherine Galliford in advance of her testimony at the Missing Women’s Inquiry. Galliford expressed that she wishes the option of a hotline had been available to her while she was working on the force. She said: “Female police officers are incredible public servants and the general public is only starting to hear about the harassment that we go through. It can break you, and then if you need help, it’s very hard to find.

A phone line, with confidentiality and referral to counselling, and medical and legal help, is an excellent idea. I went to every doctor on the planet,” Galliford continued, saying the RCMP’s internal employee assistance program leaked her medical files to the RCMP and did not offer her any help with her situation or ongoing emotional issues. Galliford has post-traumatic stress disorder and agoraphobia and has been on sick leave for the past four years. Her illness is a direct result of the continual sexual harassment she suffered during her 16 year career with the RCMP.

The harassment began before she entered the force. In 1991, having started her training with the force the year before, Galliford was stalked by an RCMP officer. Allegedly, the officer stalking her told her that if she did not have sex with him he would stop her from getting onto the force.

Galliford joined the Missing Women’s Task Force in 2001 with the intention of hunting down a serial killer that was preying on women in the Downtown Lower Eastside of Vancouver. She was the public spokesperson for the Air India bombings and the Pickton case.

Galliford will be testifying at the Pickton Inquiry in January with the support of police psychologist Mike Webster and she intends to “name names.” Galliford said the RCMP had enough evidence for a search warrant for the Pickton farm in 1999 but did nothing. Fourteen women were murdered by Robert Pickton between 1999 and 2002. In 2002, Pickton was arrested for an unrelated charge when junior officer Nathan Wells obtained a search warrant related to illegal firearms.

Galliford released a 115-page statement to the RCMP detailing the apathy, misogyny, and discriminatory conduct of both the Vancouver Police Department and the RCMP after the formation of the Missing Women Task Force. In her statement Galliford says that members of the Task Force watched porn and left work early to drink and engage in sexual liaisons. In an interview Galliford said of her former colleagues: “They would break between noon and 2 p.m. PT to just drink and party and go for lunch, but then they would go back to work on Friday and claim double-time.There was a police indifference and that, I believe, is why it went on for so long [to catch Pickton], and why so many women lost their lives.”

Soon after joining the force, Galliford found enough evidence for a search warrant but her discovery was met with indifference.

“The minute I read that file I could have put everything together for another search warrant and nothing was done. It was concluded. You had a lot of other potential suspects, but in this certain file, we had enough for another search warrant. He wasn’t a potential suspect. He was a suspect and there is a difference in the police world. At that time in the investigation, Pickton was the only one. There were potential suspects, but Pickton was the only suspect.”

Galliford said the file contained evidence of guns, women’s clothing, government I.D., and an asthma inhaler that belonged to one of the missing women. Instead of obtaining a warrant to search the farm, senior RCMP staff curtailed surveillance at the farm. Galliford attributes this disinterest with the systemic misogynistic culture of the RCMP.

A particularly disturbing form of harassment occurred for Galliford as the details of the Pickton murders began to emerge. Other members of the Task Force had a “fantasy” about Galliford that they insisted on sharing with her. In an interview she said:

“They wanted to see Willie Pickton escape from prison, track me down and strip me naked, string me up on a meat hook and gut me like a pig. And they actually started laughing and fist-tapping each other.” Read more

Posted on by Roxanna Bennett in Can-Con, Feminism, Politics 6 Comments