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

Youth Can Prevent Violence Against Women & Girls

infographicRe-posted with permission from the Battered Women’s Support Services Ending Violence blog.

1. Use Social Media-Social media has an empowering effect send articles, with the click of a button, you can spread the word. Youth do not need the mainstream media to voice their views!

2. Report- Report photos that exploit girls and young women when you see them on social media sites like Facebook and Instagram

3. Be media literate and critical-Be critical of what you see otherwise it become normalized and we are desensitized! The media regularly uses images of violence against women and objectifies girls and women to sell products. Women are also objectified in movies, music and magazines. If you see an ad or commercial that is sexist and degrading towards women – write or e-mail the company and don’t by their products. Read more

Posted on by Battered Women's Support Services in Can-Con, Feminism 2 Comments

31 Steps to End Violence Against Women in BC

by Jarrah Hodge

With a provincial election coming up, the Jane Doe Legal Network has come out with a list of “31 Things British Columbia Can Do Right Now to End Violence Against Women”.  Starting in March to coincide with International Women’s Day, the group released one recommendation a day for 31 days. As the network stated in its release:

Women in British Columbia have waited too long already. That is why we are offering 31 things that BC’s new Provincial Office of Domestic Violence (PODV) can push for right now to increase safety for women and to bring us closer than we have ever been to ending violence against women once and for all.   We are calling for 31 social, economic and legal changes, none of which are unachievable in this province. Some would require very little financial investment, and each of them will save resources in the long term given the high costs of violence against women.

These have all been shared at the Jane Doe site and Battered Women’s Support Services’ Ending Violence Blog, with more detail on each recommendation, but I wanted to share the list and summaries of each point for those of you who are looking for what policies to support and advocate for when contacting your local candidates. Many of the recommendations are also applicable to other jurisdictions and might help focus work for activists outside BC.

  1. Call violence against women what it is. We  need to shift our language away from euphemism and legalese in  law, in policy, the courts and  everyday life in order to make systemic problems visible.
  2. Audit for compliance with BC’s Violence Against Women in Relationship policy. There needs to be monitoring for compliance and consistency with the VAWIR policy guidelines for professionals, including police, Crown, probation officers and child protection workers.
  3. Meet the immediate financial and housing needs of women fleeing violence, including making sure women fleeing violence can access short-term income assistance, child care, and transitional housing.
  4. Enhance access to justice for women – invest in family, immigration and poverty law legal aid services. BC needs to support funding for legal aid so abused women don’t have to compromise their rights in order to avoid self-representing or accruing unmanageable legal costs.
  5. Make addressing women’s inequality a core learning objective for all BC students. My personal favourite. We need to start at least in secondary school to educate kids about gender inequality and teach them that women have equal value. It’s part of making violence less acceptable.
  6. Add sexual violence by police to the mandate of the Independent Investigations Office. The IIO was established to investigate cases of death or serious harm at the hands of police, but it has no mandate to ensure the safety of women who have been sexually assaulted by police, or to protect police officers’ intimate partners when fleeing abuse.
  7. Address the feminization of poverty with a provincial anti-poverty plan. BC needs a comprehensive anti-poverty plan that includes a gender lens to help marginalized groups of women who are particularly susceptible to poverty.
  8. Push to add gender and sex to the hate crime provisions of Canada’s Criminal Code. BC should lobby the federal government to add sex and gender to legal hate crime provisions to send the message that misogyny is real and as devastating as any other kind of hate.
  9. Bring back regional coordination committees for women’s safety. In the 1990s the government supported regional committees of government agencies and non-profits working on issues around violence against women. These committees collaborated on policy issues and collaborated on some specific cases.
  10. Join the call for a national inquiry into missing and murdered Indigenous women. Hundreds of Indigenous women have gone missing or been murdered in Canada and the provincial government needs to join the many individuals and organizations who have called for a national inquiry.
  11. Do not let immigration status stand in the way of women’s safety. Women fleeing violence should not have their immigration status called into question or be reported to Border Services, as some women advocates report happens currently.
  12. Value the expertise of women’s organizations by investing in their work. Financially supporting experienced women’s organizations will yield optimal return on investment as women fleeing violence would be more able to swiftly access counselling, legal services, and “Stopping the Violence” programs. Read more
Posted on by Battered Women's Support Services in Can-Con, Feminism, Politics 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

Survivors Speak Out to Break Silence about Systemic Violence Against Women and Girls

Battered Women's Support Services ProtestThanks to Joanna Chiu for letting us cross-post this past week’s series of posts for Vancouver’s Battered Women’s Support Services on media representations of violence against women in recognition of Prevention of Violence Against Women Week. Read the whole series at the BWSS Ending Violence blog and enjoy this final article.

But all over the media, footage of a woman being punched in the face can be used to promote a reality show, a video of a woman in a neck brace after “rough sex” can be used to promote a vegetarian diet, and artists rapping and singing in a mansion filled with corpses of women hung by chains can be passed as an “artistic” music video.

If you keep watching those shows, supporting the same artists and organizations, playing violent video games or subscribing to the same magazines without thinking about what you’re accepting, like it or not, you are actually supporting violence against women and girls.

The philosophy of Battered Women’s Support Services is that battering does not take place between two people in isolation—violence and abuse happens in a social context, and is deeply rooted in a system that supports the right of some people to oppress others based on privileges such as gender, race, religion, class, sexual orientation, age and physical ability.

The kinds of systems of oppression that perpetuate violence against women are reflected in and promoted through the media, so for Prevention of Violence Against Women Week, BWSS asked me to help bring together media makers and activists in dialogue about how to end systemic violence against women and girls.

Throughout the past week, my blog posts have discussed different messages in the media that take away the agency of survivors of violence and marginalized groups—misrepresenting them instead with highly damaging ideas: Women are sluts, women of colour are really big sluts, women are asking for it, women are crazy “psycho bitches.”

Those media messages, brought to you by the 3000 ads you see every day, and from a myriad of news and entertainment outlets, promote a culture of violence—and a culture of silence.

The debilitating fear, shame and self-blame that many women feel after surviving sexual assault, domestic violence or abuse keep most from reporting the crimes to police, and even from telling their closest friends and family. As a result of this culture of silence and victim blaming, 97% of rapists will not spend one day in jail (Source: RAINN). Read more

Posted on by Joanna Chiu in Feminism, Pop Culture Leave a comment

Your Message, Your Voice: Blogging to Fill the Need for Independent Critical Analysis

by Joanna Chiu, in her continuing series of posts for Vancouver’s Battered Women’s Support Services on media representations of violence against women in recognition of Prevention of Violence Against Women Week. Read the whole series at the BWSS Ending Violence blog.

It is no coincidence that BWSS is using a blog campaign this week to generate dialogue about how media critique can help end violence against women and girls.

The purpose of a blog is to not just to be read but to be part of a conversation. For media activists, blogs carve out spaces to participate in critical analysis of mainstream media and culture when mainstream media outlets typically push out critical voices.

In the U.S. 6 corporations control the vast majority of media outlets, and in Canada, 7 companies control the vast majority of media outlets. ranked Canada No. 16 and the U.S. No. 17 for levels of press freedom, making North America far from being leading champions for democratic values in the press. Read more

Posted on by Joanna Chiu in Can-Con, Feminism, Pop Culture Leave a comment

Indigenous and Women of Colour Media Makers Resist!

Tailfeathers (center) with star of A Red Girl’s Reasoning Jessica Matten (left) and Rose Stiffarm (right)

4th post as part of  Joanna Chiu‘s series of posts for Vancouver’s Battered Women’s Support Services on media representations of violence against women in recognition of Prevention of Violence Against Women Week. Read the whole series at the BWSS Ending Violence blog.

Today, as I was walking down the street to write at my favorite coffee shop, I received the usual afternoon greetings from my neighbours: “Hey baby!” “Konichee-wa!” “Ni hao! “Look at that ass!!”

As all Indigenous women and women of colour know, if sexism wasn’t bad enough, we encounter racism on a daily basis as well—on the street, in the classroom, in the workplace, and in the media. (See the theory of intersectionality on how oppressions like racism, ageism and classism intersect.)

In media, women of colour are often hyper-sexualized, and depicted in racial caricatures: Kung Fu ladies, geishas, sexy Latina sirens, Pocahontas types, etc. That is, if we see ourselves represented in the media at all. According to’s State of the Media report, race and gender issues only accounted for 1% of overall news coverage. And how many women of colour lead actresses can you name in Hollywood, or who have graced the covers of glossy magazines?

The absence of representations of people of colour in the media is as bad as racist representations in the media, because it implies that we simply don’t matter. Read more

Posted on by Joanna Chiu in Feminism, Pop Culture, Racism 2 Comments