LOVE IS...

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Determining what love is and what it isn’t, can get confusing.

Sometimes those who say they love you disguise their abusive behaviours to look like love. They may say things like, “I just love you so much..” or “I want to take care of you.”. Statements like these can come from a loving and kind place - but they can also come from control, manipulation and jealousy.

Thanks to the One Love Foundation there are ways to clear the confusion. If you’re in doubt or unsure about your relationship check out the Signs of An Unhealthy and Healthy Relationships below.

10 SIGNS OF AN UNHEALTHY RELATIONSHIP

 Understanding these behaviors can help you figure out if you’re in an unhealthy or dangerous relationship. Many times, these behaviors are used to gain power or control and can have a negative impact on your well-being or day-to -day life. In some cases, these unhealthy behaviors can escalate to violence. If you feel like something might be off in your relationship, trust your gut and get help from community resources or information about relationships at One Love Foundation.

 INTENSITY: Having really extreme feelings or over-the-top behavior that feels like too much. Examples include if someone is rushing the pace of a relationship, always wanting to see you and talk to you, and feeling like someone is obsessed with you.

 JEALOUSY: An emotion that everyone experiences, jealousy becomes unhealthy when someone lashes out or tries to control you because of it. Examples can be getting upset when you text or hang out with people your partner feels threatened by, accusing you of flirting or cheating, being possessive over you, or even going so far as to stalk you.

 MANIPULATION: When a partner tries to influence your decisions, actions or emotions. Manipulation is not always easy to spot, but some examples are; convincing you to do things you wouldn’t normally feel comfortable with, ignoring you until they get their way, and using gifts and apologies to influence your decisions or get back in your good graces.

 ISOLATION: Keeping you away from friends, family, or other people. Examples can be when your partner makes you choose between them and your friends, insisting you spend all your time with them, making you question your own judgment of friends and family, and making you feel dependent on them for money, love or acceptance.

 SABOTAGE: Purposely ruining your reputation, achievements or success. Examples can be making you miss work, school or practice, keeping you from getting school work done, talking about you behind your back or starting rumors, and threatening to share private information about you.

 BELITTLING: Making you feel bad about yourself. Examples can be calling you names, making rude remarks about who you hang out with, your family or what you look like, and making fun of you – even if it’s played off as just a joke.

 GUILTING: Making you feel guilty or responsible for your partner’s actions. Examples can be making you feel responsible for their happiness, making you feel like everything is your fault, threatening to hurt themselves or others if you don’t do as they say or stay with them, or pressuring you to do anything sexual you’re not comfortable with.

 VOLATILITY: Unpredictable overreactions that make you feel like you need to walk on eggshells around them or do things to keep them from lashing out. Examples can be mood swings, losing control of themselves by getting violent or yelling, threatening to hurt you or destroy things, and making you feel afraid of them. Volatility can also include lots of drama or ups and downs in a relationship.

 DEFLECTING RESPONSIBILITY: Making excuses for their behavior. Examples can be blaming you, other people or past experiences for their actions, using alcohol or drugs as an excuse, using mental health issues or personal history (like a cheating ex or divorced parents) as a reason for unhealthy behavior.

 BETRAYAL:When your partner acts differently with you versus how they act when you’re not around. Examples can be lying to you, purposely leaving you out or not telling you things, being two-faced, acting differently around friends, or cheating while in a relationship with you.

10 SIGNS OF A HEALTHY RELATIONSHIP

Healthy relationships are ones that bring out the best in you. Even though no relationship is perfect, healthy relationships make you feel good almost all of the time and generally bring you up and not down. Here are some characteristics and behaviors of a healthy relationship. Keep in mind that with all of these behaviors, there’s a threshold for when it becomes unhealthy. For instance, loyalty is great, but at a certain point it can be unhealthy if you are being loyal to a partner who continuously disrespects you. At the end of the day, the characteristics in a healthy relationship make you feel confident and supported.

 COMFORTABLE PACE: You and your partner allow the relationship to happen at a pace that feels comfortable for both of you. Oftentimes, when you begin dating someone, you may feel that you’re spending all of your time with them because you want to – that is great! But be sure that nothing feels imbalanced or rushed in the relationship. In a healthy relationship, nobody pressures the other to have sex, make the relationship exclusive, move in together, meet their family and friends, get married, or have a baby. When you do choose to take these steps, you both feel happy and excited about it—no mixed feelings.

 TRUST: Believing your partner won’t do anything to hurt you or ruin the relationship. Examples are when your partner lets you do things without them, has faith that you won’t cheat on them, respects your privacy online (like who you text and Snapchat), and doesn’t make you go out of your way or work hard to “earn” their trust.

 HONESTY: Being truthful and open with your partner. It's important to be able to talk together about what you both want. In a healthy relationship, you can talk to your partner without fearing how they’ll respond or if you’ll be judged. They may not like what you have to say, but in a healthy relationship, a partner will respond to disappointing news in a considerate way. Some examples are having good communication about what you both want and expect, and never feeling like you have to hide who you talk to or hang with from your partner.

 INDEPENDENCE: Having space and freedom in your relationship to do you. Examples are when your partner supports you having friends and a life outside of your relationship and not needing to be attached at the hip or know every little detail about your life.

 RESPECT: If respect is present in your relationship, your partner will value your beliefs, opinions and who you are as a person. Examples are complimenting you, supporting your hard work and dreams, not trying to push or overstep your boundaries, and sticking up for you.

 EQUALITY: You and your partner have the same say and put equal effort into the relationship (instead of feeling like one person has more say than the other). Examples are feeling like you are heard in your relationship or feel comfortable speaking up, making decisions together as opposed to one person calling all the shots, and equally compromising on decisions in your relationship to make the other person feel important or respected.

 COMPASSION: Feeling a sense of care and concern from your partner and knowing that they will be there to support you, too. If you’re in a healthy relationship, your partner will be kind to you, they will understand and be supportive of you when you’re going through tough times, and they will lend a helping hand in times of need. An important caveat is that it has to be two-sided and displayed equally. You should never feel like someone is taking advantage of your kindness.

 TAKING RESPONSIBILITY: You and your partner are both responsible for your own actions and words. You both avoid putting blame on each other and own up to your actions when you do something wrong. Examples are when your partner genuinely apologizes for their mistakes, avoids taking things out on you when they're upset, and tries to make positive changes to better your relationship.

 LOYALTY:  When your partner is reliable and you feel confident that they have your back. Some examples are when your partner is respectful and faithful, sticks up for you, doesn’t take sides against you but helps you see the middle ground, and keeps your secrets safe. In a healthy relationship, you don’t have to test the other person’s loyalty, because you just know it’s there. Sometimes people say, “We all make mistakes” and, “Nobody’s perfect” to make excuses for disloyalty. If you find yourself saying that often, it’s a red flag that the relationship may not be healthy

 COMMUNICATION: If you can talk to your partner about anything—the good and the bad—this is a sign of a healthy relationship. Examples include feeling like your partner will listen to you when you need to talk, they are open to discussing further, and not feeling judged for your words or opinions

 Some of these characteristics may seem obvious to you, and some may make you think about how you can improve your own relationship, or help a friend improve theirs. Now that you’re equipped with this knowledge, spread the word! We can all work to build healthier relationships, and it starts with education and conversations!

LOVE THE ONE YOUR WITH

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“It’s up to each of us to get very still and say, ‘This is who I am.’ No one else defines your life. Only you do.”  Oprah Winfrey

There’s an exercise I do in one of my workshops to help women with their feelings of self-worth and confidence.

I begin by passing around a hand mirror and asking the participants to look at their reflections. I then ask them to create a portrait of what they saw when they looked in the mirror. They can use words and pictures to create their masterpiece and when they’re finished each person is asked to share their portrait with the group.

I’ve always been interested in how most participants identify their flaws. The pimple on their chin, the bags under their eyes, the wrinkles on their neck, their unruly hair. It’s not often that they highlight their positive qualities. When most people look at their reflections (if they’re brave enough to do so), they see their many flaws; reminders of past wounds, hurt feelings and mistakes they’ve made. It’s easy for most of us to focus on our faults and dwell on our insecurities instead of seeing our positive attributes, qualities and characteristics.

It’s February and everywhere you look there are reminders of Valentine’s Day and love. Before you go giving your love away to someone else, I’m going to suggest that you first give love to the person you’re with the most…YOU!

Treating yourself better with more care and love is important to your overall happiness, confidence and feelings of self-worth. You won’t be so tempted to compare yourself with others or care about what others think of you. You’ll feel stronger and more confident. If you learn to love yourself, you’ll have so much more to give the world around you.

Before you buy someone else a box of chocolates or a lovely card, here are five tips to help show yourself a little more love.

1.       Learn to enjoy your own company

Most of our days are spent preoccupied with family, friends, responsibilities and worrying about life’s challenges, and we lose focus of ourselves. We feel selfish to even consider spending a bit of time on our own.

When working with women to help them rediscover themselves, I ask them to take a calendar and add all of the things they do in a month. Grocery shopping, driving kids to events and practices, appointments, work, cooking, cleaning, helping others and anything else they spend their time on.

As we review what they’ve recorded, I ask them where they are on the calendar. Most face a stark realization that they’ve not included themselves very much, if at all. Most are invisible in their own lives. I remember one woman with tears streaming down her face saying, “I have forgotten me”.

It’s important to add time for yourself – to be with yourself. Being on your own helps you to learn more about who you are, to consider your dreams, the purpose and plan for your life. Spending time with yourself helps you to understand what’s going on inside and gives you the chance to leave the outside of your life for a few moments.

2.       Be careful how you talk to yourself

Negative self-talk is destructive.

When we are constantly telling ourselves that we’re not good enough, perfect enough or “as good as”; it’s harder to love ourselves. Constantly reminding yourself of how you don’t measure up and of all the mistakes you’ve made, causes self-hate instead of self-love. This kind of self talk affects your outlook on life and can have a negative impact on your health.

Change what you say when you talk to yourself. Be more positive and kind. While no one is perfect, you don’t need to dwell on your weaknesses. Consider the things that you’ve learned from your experiences. Look for your good qualities and think about the things you do well. You’ll find when your self-talk is more positive, you won’t dwell so much on what other people have to say, raising your confidence and happiness levels.

3.       Keep a journal

Writing down your experiences, feelings, ideas and day to day thoughts, is a powerful exercise in helping you to love yourself more. Writing in a journal is another way to spend some quality time with yourself and gives you a chance to reflect on the good that you do. I love to go back and look at my journal entries. It gives me a chance to learn from my experiences, to see the things I’ve accomplished, areas that I’d like to change and goals that I’d like to set

Writing in a journal can be therapy for the times in life when things are hectic, you’re stressed or feeling anxious and can help you gain a clearer perspective on things..

Get a notebook – it doesn’t need to be fancy - or create a journal folder on your computer. Begin by sharing with yourself the events of the day and how you felt about them. Don’t worry about your grammar, spelling, sentence structure, or if things sound “right”. It only needs to be for your eyes. Just put pen to paper or fingers to keyboard and begin.

 4.       List your accomplishments

Take a few moments and think about the good you’ve done, the things you have learned and recognition you’ve received.

Perhaps getting out of bed and putting one foot in front of the other during a difficult time in your life. is an achievement. In this fast-paced, competitive, Instagram perfect world – it’s easy to feel you don’t measure up or contribute anything of value or worth to anyone. Consider the times you’ve shown up when someone was in need, planned and organized a family event, prepared a great meal, organized a room or drawer or toy bin in your home, created a budget, stretched your budget, remained calm in a difficult situation, volunteered your skills, shared a  random act of kindness to brighten someone’s day, followed through with a goal or commitment, stuck with something you’ve been tempted to quit, forgiven others or yourself. These and many other accomplishments are worthy of your recognition.

After you’ve finished your list, revisit it often. It will remind you of your great qualities and show you that there’s so much to love about yourself.

5.       Define your own life.

“It’s up to each of us to get very still and say, ‘This is who I am.’ No one else defines your life. Only you do.”  Oprah Winfrey

Oprah was once standing trial in Texas for allegedly defaming the beef industry. Going into the trial she believed that she’d done nothing wrong and would be able to prove it while standing up for what she believed. During the trial, the prosecuting attorney was trying to paint a picture of Oprah as a manipulative, malicious liar who had conspired against the beef industry. He flailed his arms, pointed his fingers and spoke very loudly at Oprah. She said of the experience, “The louder he yelled, the calmer I became. I got very still inside and said to myself, “That is not who I am.” Oprah realized that whether you’re on trial or going through a trial - difficulty, pain, illness, heartache - the trial stands outside of you, flailing, ranting and raging, trying to tell you who you are.  No one else gets to define your life – only you..

You get to see and say who you really are, what you can accomplish and the person you will be.

These steps are just the beginning to loving yourself. If you follow them, you can take control of your own life. Don’t wait for someone else to “let” you be happy, to see who you really are. Don’t wait any longer. Give yourself the gift of loving you.

#loveshouldnthurt #loveyourself #lovetheoneyourwith

Internet Safety

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Normally I don't re-post from another page on our website - but this is something I think is worth repeating so, just in case you missed it on the #loveshouldnthurt page - here is a great guide on Internet Safety for Women. 

"...while 70% of women believe online harassment to be a major problem, not many know how to prevent it." vpn mentor

I'm really excited about this Internet Safety Guide published by VPN Mentor, authorities on web privacy. 

As we know, online tools used for abuse and harassment of women, are social media platforms. More than ever before, women are experiencing threatening messages, being tracked, sent unwanted sexually explicit images, and having their privacy invaded.

This guide empowers women to navigate the internet in safety and without fear. There's tons of information, tips and advice, regarding harassment - "on social media, at work, while dating and more...and how women can take control." vpn mentor

Check it out and be sure to share it with all the women you know.

#loveshouldnthurt #internetsafety #everywoman

SEEDS OF CHANGE

"Don't judge each day by the harvest you reap but by the seeds you plant." Anonymous.

Spring is coming - I promise! After such a long winter we're all looking forward to it.

It's an exciting time of renewal, regeneration, and new beginnings. It's also a time for planting seeds. Seeds that bring hope for a better future - hope for change.

This past month, our community was rocked yet again, with the senseless loss of Three. More. Lives. Three lives violently taken in the name of "love".  

Even with the current movements of #metoo, #timesup, #itsneverokay, #pressforprogress and our very own #loveshouldnhurt, at times like this, it's difficult to feel like we are making the slightest bit of difference or progress. Regardless of the ongoing work and effort to help women whose lives are impacted by abuse and violence, every day, in every community - it's still not enough.

This month, we are calling on men to take the lead for planting the seeds necessary for real change. We need your leadership, your voice and your action to ensure that #loveshouldnthurt - that it will stop hurting so many women and children.

We need ordinary, everyday guys - our friends, husbands, brothers, relatives, neighbours, coworkers and colleagues to let others know that "It's Never Okay!". The infographic below might give you ideas on where to start - or click Here and Here for more information about what you can do.

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Let us know what you are doing to plant seeds of change. Share with us here, on Twitter or Facebook. Tag us using #loveshouldnthurt #vpccdurham #loveshouldnthurtdurham @vpcc8 and please share this message with other men like yourself.

THE HIDDEN SQUARE...A SOLUTION TO VIOLENCE PREVENTION?

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How many squares do you see? 

Most can see the obvious sixteen squares. But if you look a little longer you will see that in addition to the sixteen squares, there are nine two-by-two squares, four three-by-three squares, and one large four-by-four square, which brings the total to thirty. It's interesting that the squares were always there but you may not have found them until you looked harder..

So what does this puzzle have to do with violence prevention? 

I've been giving a lot of thought over the last few days, to the tragic deaths of Ajax residents, Krassimira Pejcinovski and her two teenage children.

Since the beginning of 2018, eight females in the GTA have allegedly been killed by a man they were in a relationship with. I'm haunted by the thought of another woman's life being snuffed out and like many of you, wonder what it will take to make it stop. 

Violence prevention is like the square puzzle. There's always another square, another possibility, if we just keep looking for it and the clue to "another square, another possibility" may be more obvious than we think.

Farrah Khan, coordinator of Ryerson University's Office of Sexual Violence Support and Education, said, "Community members, rather than justice or violence prevention workers, are often best positioned to take meaningful, potentially life-saving action."

"Most survivors don't talk to professionals. They talk to their neighbour, they talk to a friend, they talk to a family member," Khan said. "We have to have the opportunity to build our muscles as a community...to actually intervene and name when these things are happening and connect our friends and loved ones to the supports that they need to survive."

WE are those community members. We are the hidden "square in the puzzle". We have the power and influence to help prevent violence against women and to save lives. We are the David to the domestic violence giant, Goliath. The menacing warrior that was defeated by a shepherd boy,.equipped with nothing more than a sling and some stones.

As a community, we can arm ourselves with stones in the form of information; becoming more aware of warning signs and gathering resources to share. We can observe, listen and believe. We can let our politicians know that there is no excuse for violence against women and that the growing number of domestic homicides is NOT OKAY. We can tell those in political power, that they need to start using their positions of influence to take a stand for the communities for which they have stewardship and responsibility. We are a community that can make all the difference for a woman and her children.

There has never been a better time for the #loveshouldnthurt campaign because it's all about community getting involved. Check out the VPCC website for resources and updates on #lovshouldnthurt

You can also Save-The-Date and join us for a Provincial Candidate's Forum on May 3, 2018 at the Abilities Centre in Whitby, to learn more about what our provincial leaders understand regarding the diverse needs and realities of our communities and how they plan to tackle the issues that are important to women and families living in the Durham Region. 

 #loveshouldnthurt. But. It. Does.

What do you think can be done to end violence against women? #loveshouldnthurt #loveshouldnthurtdurham #davidandgoliath #communitypower #vpccdurham

MAN ENOUGH?

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Justin Baldoni actor, director, social entrepreneur and co-founder of Wayfarer Entertainment is challenging men to engage in redefining masculinity and figuring out ways to not just be good men, but good humans. Baldoni may be best known for his role as Rafael in "Jane the Virgin" and his ultra-successful Ted Talk

Along with guests like, The Daily Show's, Hasan Minhaj, John Legend, Prince Ea, Derek Hough, currently the host for the popular dance competition show, "The World of Dance", Javier Munoz from the smash Broadway hit, "Hamilton" and Matt McGorry of "Orange is the New Black"; Baldoni is challenging guys to redefine male stereotypes like strength, bravery, and toughness through his new talk show "Man Enough". Watch Episode 1 Here.

I think it's a great way to start the conversation. Take a look and leave your comments below. Don't forget to "Like" and "Share".

 

#LOVESHOULDNTHURT CAMPAIGN LAUNCH

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#loveshouldnthurt Campaign Launch Keynote

Elizabeth Pierce, Executive Director, Catholic Family Services of Durham

(Not everyone was able to make it to the #loveshouldnthurt Campaign Launch, so I wanted to give you a sample of the fantastic keynote address, Elizabeth Pierce shared. Here it is below....)

"The Violence Prevention Coordinating Council (VPCC) is comprised of 32 member organizations in this Region, who are committed to addressing the issues of violence in our community.

"We meet monthly, educating one another about the work being done to address the issues of violence against women, which affects the youngest to the oldest and the most vulnerable in our Region. We also intentionally plan community events to build capacity, increase awareness and be a catalyst for change regarding violence in Durham Region. 

"This year, as we considered what we would do to mark November Woman Abuse Awareness month, we were at a loss. Despite some excellent, past events - partnering with Durham Regional Police Service (DRPS) to bring in experts like Jackson Katz and White Ribbon Campaign - the issue of violence against women in Durham continues to intensify, and the interest from the broader community to be part of the solution, continues to stagnate.

"This year we realized that we needed to do something different. Our goal as a group of agencies is not to be event planners, but to actually be a catalyst for violence prevention through our coordinating efforts.

"We needed to find a way to reach people of all ages, stages, sectors and genders, to educate, and bring awareness to the issues of violence against women, so that we, as a community of service providers and members alike, can begin to change the landscape of our Region.

"Because right now, the landscape is not very lush and appealing with respect to the prevention of violence. Here are the realities we discuss each month:

  • In Durham Region, the police respond to an average of 21 domestic calls per day
  • 25% of all calls for violent crime are domestic violence cases
  • In Canada, a woman is murdered by her intimate partner every six days. Three of those have happened here in Durham Region this year, with a likely fourth, once the victim has been identified
  • Luke's Place, an agency providing legal support to domestic violence victims going through the family law process, helped over 600 women this year
  • Our four shelters housed 608 women and 320 children this past year. In and of itself that is a staggering number. What is more staggering, however, is that the shelters turned away 1,080 women because they were at capacity. Shelter crisis lines fielded 5,507 calls
  • The Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, conducted a study on the best and worst cities for women to live and work. Oshawa ranked 24th out of 25 overall, with 25 being the worst, and in the individual category of security, Durham Region rated 25th.

"The VPCC decided, these statistics are unacceptable. That the year after year increase in these numbers, has got to stop. 

"It wasn't many years ago that DRPS responded to 13-14 domestic calls per day. It's now up to 21 calls per day. It wasn't so long ago that "the domestic murder" in Durham was Gillian Hadley,an anomaly at the time. This year there has been four domestic homicides so far.

"We believe that making our Region safer for women benefits everyone. The fewer women that are abused, the fewer children there are exposed to that trauma. The fewer children that are exposed to violence against women, the less likely they are to grow up with anger, mental health, learning and emotional and relational challenges. 

"If the emotional, "touchy, feely" isn't as compelling as the business case - then here's the other side: Domestic violence costs the nation over 7 billion dollars each year. The fewer women there are being abused, the less need there will be for costly services such as emergency room visits, doctors, EMS, police, the judicial system and lost days to the workplace.

"It's good and right that we have a month to mark Woman Abuse Awareness. It matters. But, historically, for most people who aren't doing the work on a daily basis, the focus towards this issue tends to diminish.

"Imagine if after October; Child Abuse Awareness month, everyone forgot about standing against child abuse, reporting child abuse, speaking out against child abuse and addressing child abuse. We'd have a big problem. As it should be, child abuse prevention is actually a daily activity here in Durham Region.

We need a change with respect to domestic violence. This is not just a women's problem. And truth be told, it's not something that those of us who work with victims, can stop all on our own. We need everyone. And we need to get the word out - that Love Shouldn't Hurt. Not just in November, but all year long.

This is why we're here today. To launch the #loveshouldnthurt Campaign. It starts today, November 17, 2017 and will continue through to next November. We have buttons, stickers, post cards and posters that you can take with you - or contact info@vpccdurham.org to place an order for your workplace. We will be posting these at UOIT and Durham College as well.

"Our hope is that if you aren't already doing so, you will join us in the fight to ensure that love doesn't hurt and to eliminate violence against women. Even if you are already part of the fight, begin the conversation that #loveshouldnthurt with your colleagues, friends and family - where ever your sphere of influence extends.

"We would love for each person here today to be a champion for this campaign. Check your email the first Monday of every month for articles, resources, up-to-date news coverage, research or videos, to share with your community, raise awareness and to continue the conversation. Contact info@vpccdurham.org to be added to the mailing list.

"We hope you will join the VPCC during the month of February, 2018 - the month when love is celebrated. Encourage everyone in your workplace to fill out commitment cards with an action they will take, to be part of the solution and the message that #loveshouldnthurt. 

"Our lofty goal for this Campaign is to increase the awareness and ripple effect in people's lives, behaviours, attitudes, treatment of one another and beliefs about relationships. The VPCC hopes that our membership of 32 agencies, will be joined by a throng of workplaces, organizations, individuals and groups in the fight against gender-based violence, to ensure that our Region is a safer place for women and children."

#loveshouldnthurt #endviolenceagainstwomen #workingtogether

Engaging Men as Allies in Preventing Violence Against Women

So recently I was cruising through some TEDx talks and came across Robert Eckstein's presentation on "Engaging Men as Allies in Preventing Violence Against Women".

Eckstein currently works at the University of New Hampshire. His responsibilities include being part of a research group called "Prevention Innovations". The primary mission of this organization is to create and evaluate tools that help with the prevention of sexual violence, relationship violence and stalking. 

I think what he has to say is food for thought..His ideas to engage more men in the prevention of Violence Against Women, are what he calls "small and simple; starting with day-to-day things".

Here are his thoughts on how we get more men to care about these important issues:

Make the issues more relatable. More personal. Bring the issues close to home.

Consider the women in your life. A partner, sisters, friends, daughters, mother, aunt, grandmother. With the stats that 1 out of 4 women will be abused by a relationship partner and 1 out of 6 women will experience an attempted or completed rape in their lifetime...How many women would be on your list of those you know?

The reality is that most everyone will have somebody in their life that either has or will be directly impacted by abuse or violence. So how DO we engage more men in the prevention of violence against women?

The following question can be answered by anyone but I hope the men reading this will take special notice:

Do you think the women you care about see you as an ally in the cause of prevention of violence against women?

When it comes up; how do you talk about rape?

When it comes up how do you talk about domestic violence?

When there's a case in our community or news feed; do you express your opinions about the case and if so how do you do it?

Do you know what victim blaming is?

Do you know what rape myths are?

Do you make an effort to avoid endorsing these ideas?

In the most general of terms; what type of language do you use when you talk about women?

Do you automatically become defensive in discussions related to violence against women?

Do you automatically become defensive when you hear discussions around male privilege? If so have you ever thought about how this comes across to women you care about?

Do people look at you and say, "This is someone I can share my story with, without feeling judged and blamed?...Who I can share my story with and feel confident that they will listen and provide support?

Considering these questions can be beneficial for anyone - but if men will consider their answers to these questions, perhaps they will become more conscious of the role they play in the lives of women and the prevention of violence against women.  

If you've got 15 minutes to spare - the time will be well spent in watching the full TEDx talk here.

Take a look and see what you think about his suggestions and then share your thoughts in the comment section below. If you like what you see, click "Like" and don't forget to share this video and post with men in your lives to get the conversation started.

 

 

 

A Picture's Worth A Thousand Words

As you can see, the article and magazine cover below are from a year ago. It was posted on a site called "Women You Should Know".

I recently came across it and thought it was worth sharing - really worth sharing and applaud the graphic artist who changed the magazine cover to reflect what we've been working so hard for; Sending a clear message that girls everywhere are recognized and valued for the true and beautiful individuals that they are, while encouraging them to become all that they are meant to be. Not just a pretty face, worried about "dream hair" and "waking up pretty".

Appalled Graphic Designer Shows Girls’ Life Magazine What Their Cover Should Look Like

 SEPTEMBER 13, 2016 WYSK

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"A couple of weeks ago we ran a piece about an image that was posted on social media and went viral. It was a side-by-side shot of this Girls’ Life magazine cover (left, lead image) next to the cover of Boys’ Life magazine that served as a harsh reminder of the stereotyped messages that, even in the year 2016, are STILL marketing to girls. We weren’t the only ones ticked-off by the image. After seeing it posted on her Facebook feed, Katherine Young, a graphic designer, took matters into her own hands and decided to show Girls’ Life what their cover SHOULD look like.

“When I saw the post I was just in frickin’ shock,” Katherine said. “Can this be real? Is this photo fake? After Googling current issues of these two magazines I found them to be real. I was just appalled.”

Putting her graphic skills to work, in just a few minutes, Katherine swapped out the cover girl for Olivia Hallisey, the 2015 Google Science Fair Grand Prize winner, and photo-shopped in some new, inspired and empowering headlines. The result? A magazine cover that offers girls better alternatives to tips on how to “Wake up Pretty.”

Katherine was motivated to change the cover so that others will be more aware of the messages they are sending to girls. “We can do better. I hope this cover inspires us all to do better every day and be more conscious of the imagery our children are bombarded with,” she said in an email to WYSK. “I hope this sparks conversation with both girls and boys. They all need to know that girls are more than a pretty face.”

Girls’ Life… are you listening?"

Women You Should Know - September 2016

A Father & Son Talk: What it means to be a man.

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This article is reprinted from a recent TED talk/Facebook Live session in June, 2017. Let us know what you think in the comments below...and don't forget to share!

Is a private Facebook group the 2017 version of the all-men’s golf getaway? What’s the difference between being “a good man” and “a real man”? In an honest and eye-opening conversation, Baby Boomer Michael Kimmel and his Generation Z son, Zachary, share their experiences of masculinity.

Michael Kimmel (TED Talk: Why gender equality is good for everyone) is a sociology professor at Stony Brook University in New York and the founder of its Center for the Study of Men and Masculinities. Yes, you read that right — masculinities, plural. He believes there is no one masculinity in society today but a number of masculinities, shaped by the intersection of gender and influences like race, class and sexuality. Age is also an important factor, and in June, Kimmel, 66, and his 18-year-old son, Zachary, discussed how their respective generations — Baby Boomer and Gen Z — understand and experience masculinity. (Editor’s note: the following conversation was edited for clarity and length.)

Michael Kimmel: Let me start by asking you, What do you think are the differences between being a man today as you experience it and what you perceive in previous generations?

Zachary Kimmel: While my experience might not represent the totality of all men’s experiences, one noticeable and important change to me is the balance of work and family. I think there’s an expectation for men of my generation that both work and family will be shared between the spouses/partners, and I can imagine that wasn’t always the case for you.

Michael: That was a real issue for my generation. I remember my father telling me that when he was in college, he and his friends would ask each other, “Are you going to let your wife work?” And they said, “No, that’s my responsibility. I take care of supporting the family. She should stay home with the kids.”

Zachary: Another important shift that’s happened between our generations is the acceptability of cross-gender friendships. For men now, it’s far more acceptable to have females as friends, not only as romantic partners.

Michael: Yes. I go to a lot of campuses to speak, and when I started doing it 25 years ago, I’d walk into a class and ask, “How many of you have a good friend of the opposite sex?” Like ten percent of the class raised their hands. Now I could walk into any college classroom and ask, “Is there anybody here who doesn’t have a good friend of the opposite sex?” I’d never see a hand.

Zachary: Absolutely.

Once upon a time, the whole world was a locker room — now there’s women everywhere. I hear men my age say, “Where can a guy go where he can just relax and not get policed all the time?”

Michael: You’ve painted a pretty happy picture of your generation. At the same time, every day there seems to be a steady parade of young men behaving badly. For example, there was the Facebook page that the Marines had which shared nude photos of female service members and condoned violence against women, and the private Facebook group in which recently admitted students to Harvard said all kinds of bad things. Tell me a little bit about that side.

Zachary: Obviously, we haven’t fully overcome the tendency for men, particularly in all-male groups, to degrade women and engage in activities like hazing or sexual assault. I think there might be a correlation between women becoming more integrated into the workforce and public sphere and some men retreating into insular, all-male groups — the fraternity, sports team and the online Facebook chat — to keep up that traditional understanding of masculinity.

Michael: Once upon a time, the whole world was a locker room — the corporate boardroom was a locker room, the faculty meeting was a locker room, and of course, the locker room was a locker room. Now there’s women everywhere. I’d imagine this has affected my generation more than yours because it’s new to us, we weren’t prepared. We expected locker rooms everywhere. I hear men my age say things like, “Where can a guy go where he can just relax, say stupid stuff, and not get policed all the time?” Do you hear that from guys your age?

Zachary: Absolutely. The generational difference may be in the location of those conversations. Your generation invested in the man cave or the weekend golfing trip; we went online. We make Facebook groups, group chats, use all forms of social media to talk between men. Last year, sports teams from elite institutions — Harvard men’s soccer, Princeton men’s swimming and diving, Columbia wrestling — all got in trouble with their universities for their all-male team chats, group messages and texts. We’ve retreated to our online spaces.

Michael: My generation grew up with the expectation that our world would be pretty much like Don Draper’s in Mad Men. My dad’s world looked like that, and I expected my world to look like that. I feel like my generation has this sense of loss because we expected something we didn’t get. You didn’t expect it, so you aren’t angry. That thwarted sense of entitlement fuels a lot of the angry men I’ve written about. But I want to switch topics. When we’ve talked before, you’ve used the word “toxic” to describe masculinity.

Zachary: Yes.

This traditional, inherited idea of masculinity is a recipe for loneliness, emptiness, a lack of connection and a suppression of compassion and empathy.

Michael: What about masculinity would you say is toxic or poisonous?

Zachary: Masculinity in its rigid, norm-driven form can harm men. It can cause physical harm when it’s pressuring men to binge-drink or submit to hazing rituals to get into a group. It can also lead to an emotional shut-down in which men are discouraged from having women as friends or pursuing activities because they’re worried about social consequences.

Michael: What you’re saying is this traditional, inherited idea of masculinity is a recipe for loneliness, emptiness, a lack of connection and a suppression of compassion, empathy, etc. I take your point. But what I see in you and in many of your guy friends and in my generation are men facing tension in their notions of masculinity. Let me ask you, What does it mean to you to be a good man?

Zachary: Responsible, honorable, does the right thing, protector, provider, honest — all those words come to mind.

Michael: OK. Now tell me if those same ideas come up when I say, “Man up, dude! Be a real man.”

Zachary: I get all kinds of other ideas — show no weakness, show no pain, real men don’t cry, they get rich, they get laid, show no emotions.

Michael: That’s pretty different.

Zachary: Vastly different.

Michael: Where do you learn those ideas?

Zachary: Other men, particularly older men, coaches or the captains on the sports teams when I played sports, media, music — a variety of sources.

If I’m in a group of guys and someone makes a sexist comment, instead of saying “Hey, don’t say that word,” I say, “Hey, man, please don’t say that around me.”

Michael: I’ve been asking this question a lot, and most guys say pretty much what you said. They list, in this order, my dad, my coach, my guy friends, my older brother. I don’t want to say it’s about toxic masculinity vs. healthy masculinity. I think every one of us knows what it means to be a good man and we want to live up to those ideals. Yet sometimes in the name of proving we’re real men, we’re asked to betray our values. Don’t you think there were guys on the Harvard soccer team who were not down with what was going on?

Zachary: Absolutely.

Michael: But they can’t say it because there’s a tremendous amount of gender policing that goes on among guys. How do you deal when you’re in a group and some guy makes a sexist comment?

Zachary: When I was younger and still learning how to engage in this stuff, I’d react in a didactic, holier-than-thou, “Don’t say that, that is wrong” approach.

Michael: You’d police them back.

Zachary: I’d also get emotionally riled up and angry. Since I’ve had struggles and failures, I’ve taken on new strategies. Instead of saying “Hey, don’t say that word,” I say, “Hey, man, please don’t say that around me.” It’s a little declaration that this is not cool with me. I think you bring up an interesting point about that tension between what I feel like I should be doing versus what I feel like I need to do to fit in, and how lonely that can feel. If you’re in a situation and something is being done or said that doesn’t fly with you and you say something, you almost hope or assume there will be somebody else in the group who agrees. You hope he has the courage and strength to stand with you. Once you have another person, it’s far easier.

Michael: So how do you raise a boy to navigate this world between good and real? What advice would you give to parents on raising a good man?

Zachary: The first thing I’d say is beware of the birthday party effect. That’s the name that some psychologists have given to the phenomenon in which as kids get older, particularly when they hit puberty, parents and kids subconsciously begin to narrow the people invited to their children’s birthday party, by race and by gender.

Michael: Up until fourth grade, there’s a rule you have to invite the entire class.

Because of the love and respect between you and Mom, and your egalitarian relationship, we never needed a conversation about what men are expected to do or what women are expected to do.

Zachary: Encourage boys to cultivate cross-gender friendships — these friendships are so valuable. The second thing I’d say is, Don’t push your child into an activity that is stereotypically associated with their gender. If your son doesn’t want to play football, allow them the space and give them the confidence and trust to find their own path. If it’s ballet or tap dancing, I hope you’re as equally loving and involved a parent as if they were playing quarterback. The third thing I’d say has to do with role modeling. In our family, we never spoke about gender roles when I was younger because I grew up in a house where it was likely that I’d come home from school and see you doing laundry or the dishes.

Michael: And I’m the family cook.

Zachary: Because of the depth of love and respect between you and Mom, and the egalitarian nature of your relationship, we never needed to have a conversation about what men are expected to do or what women are expected to do. It’s just what I saw — my father is involved with me, he loves me, my mom has a career, she cares about work but she’s involved with me as well.

Michael: So what would you say to men who are resistant to the idea that masculinity should change? How would you get them on board?

Zachary: That’s the big question behind your work, and to a lesser extent, it’s my work as well. Your thesis is that a more holistic understanding of masculinity and a rejection of rigid, toxic masculinity — to use that term — is good for men. It helps in all facets of our lives and allows men to live the lives they really want to live.

Michael: I couldn’t agree more. Look, men should support gender equality because it’s the right thing to do. I don’t think it’s minimizing the moral imperative to say, “It’s also in your interest.” But I don’t think it’s easy to tell men we need to change masculinity, because men will experience this as if you’re saying, “Give up what has worked for you.”

Zachary: Power, privilege, everything.

Michael: It’s asking too much. Instead, you have to say, “You already are doing it; you just aren’t recognizing it.” Every single man is genetically connected to a woman. They know what it feels like to love a woman and want them to thrive. They’re fathers, sons, brothers, partners, lovers, friends, husbands. We need support from other men to act. When a guy says “I’m going to take parental leave,” his colleagues shouldn’t say, “I guess you’re not committed to your career, are you?” but “Good for you, man. You have your priorities straight.”

Those brotherhoods in which you defend wrong behavior — those are inauthentic. They ask you to put your own self aside. I don’t think that’s being a good brother at all.

Zachary: So much of it is about men holding our fellow men accountable. There was a football team in which a few players were accused of rape and the university said, “You can’t play in your bowl game.” Rather than support the woman or condemn their teammates, the rest of the team said, “We’re going to support the guys accused of rape.” Too often, we get caught up in notions of brotherhood or solidarity that are harmful to each other and harmful to ourselves.

Michael: I want to push back a bit, because there are positive things about brotherhood.

Zachary: I agree.

Michael: Those brotherhoods in which you’re defending the wrong behavior — those are inauthentic. They ask you to put your own self aside in order to be a brother. I don’t think that’s being a good brother at all.

Zachary: If you really are a brother, you have to say, “Hey man, this is not good for you. I wouldn’t do this.” You have to protect him.

Michael: That’s right. A real brother says, “Dude, I love you, you are my brother. I’m not going to let you do this.” The close guy friends you have, the fact that they don’t compromise, they don’t ask you to compromise your friendships with girls, that’s great. This is a place where we older men can learn. Too often on college campuses at homecoming, I hear old grads say to the young guys, “You’re not hazing them hard enough! We made them do all this horrible stuff. You guys are wusses.” And the guys are like, “We’ve got to ramp it up here.” The dads should just let them find their own way.

Zachary: I agree.

Michael: I think this is a good place for us to end. Zack, any last words?

Zachary: I wanted to say again that so many of the problems we see with men today can be solved by men holding their fellow men more accountable. Be the kind of brother who looks out for your fellow man.

Michael: I want to add one piece to that. It’s not only about holding each other accountable; it’s about being willing to be held accountable ourselves. I’ve grown most from the challenges I’ve gotten from other men and from feminist women friends who said, “We need to talk about this.”

ABOUT THE AUTHORS

Michael Kimmel is the SUNY Distinguished Professor of Sociology and Gender Studies at Stony Brook University. He is the author of many books, including "Manhood in America", "Angry White Men", "The Politics of Manhood", "The Gendered Society", and the best seller "Guyland: The Perilous World Where Boys Become Men". He founded the Center for the Study of Men and Masculinities at Stony Brook in 2013.

Zachary Kimmel has worked to engage young men for gender equality at Human Rights Watch and UN Women, where he co-authored a youth-friendly version of CEDA (onvention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Wome). As a high school senior, he started the nation's first high school chapter of Athlete Ally, a group that engages straight athletes to support LGBT rights. He will attend Columbia University in the fall.

7 Inspiring Films Every Woman (and Man) Should Watch This Summer

Here it is the middle of August and only 131 days until Christmas. (Sorry for that.) 

Last year at the beginning of the summer I did some reviews and gave suggestions on flicks that were focused on violence against women. So I thought that I'd make it an annual thing and keep it going. 

I apologize that it's a little later this year but there's still summer left, so here you go...

For the last while I have been working on the principle of being brave, so this year's films look through the lens of women's strength and courage.

You may be familiar with some of these films but I thought they're worth a replay. So put on some comfy caj, invite your gal pals over, (it would be great to let the men in your life watch too), get your favourite snacks and be prepared to be inspired.

Hmmmm....I think I feel like watching a movie now...

#1 THE ZOOKEEPER'S WIFE (Netflix)

A great, non-fiction story of keepers of the Warsaw Zoo, Antonina and Jan Zabinski, who smuggled hundreds of Jewish people out of the Warsaw Ghetto during the German invasion of Poland. After her husband is taken by the Nazis, Antonina is left to the extremely risky operation on her own.

#2 THE HELP (iTunes)

Set in civil rights Mississippi, The Help is a film about shared bravery and courage. A young, southern society girl returns from college, determined to make her mark as a writer. The focus of her first story?...Black maids who raise the children of prominent white families in her hometown.

A story that has it all...humanity, heartbreak and humour. 

#3 STILL ALICE (Netflix)

An award-winning film about a renowned, linguistics professor, wife and mother of three grown children who comes face to face with a devastating diagnosis of early-onset Alzheimer's Disease. The film gives a glimpse into the life of this strong and courageous woman and her family, as they battle heartbreak and fear through her struggles to hang onto a sense of self for as long as possible.

#4 NORTH COUNTRY (iTunes)

Inspired by a true story, this film captures the courage and fearlessness of Josey Aimes, a single, divorced mom who needs a "man's pay" to take care of her family. She goes to work at a local iron mine, where she and a handful of other female miners endure sexual harassment from male co-workers. She filed and won the USA's first-ever, class action lawsuit for sexual harassment.

#5 MOANA (Netflix)

Not just another love struck Disney princess, Moana is a young, courageous girl who takes on a journey to rescue her home, family and village. The adventure includes overcoming many obstacles and helps her to become a "master way finder". ("Way finding is not just sails and knots...it's seeing where you are going in your mind and knowing where you are by where you've been.") 

#6 HIDDEN FIGURES (iTunes)

This film centres on three African-American women whose brilliant mathematical and scientific minds are integral to the success of John Glen's orbit of the earth and beating the Soviet Union into space.  At a time when Virginia's segregation laws are still very much adhered to...the women consistently out-think their higher-ranked (usually white, male) colleagues at NASA, "whether by learning a new programming language, solving problems in wind-tunnel experiments, or calculating narrow launch windows for space missions. Each is uniquely aware of the broader stakes of her success—for other women, for black people, for black women, and for America at large—and this knowledge is as much an inspiration as it is a heavy weight." The Atlantic

#7 Pink (Netflix)

A drama about privilege, power, courage and fighting back because when a woman says "no" she means "no". No matter what culture, country or language. She has the right to govern her own body and sexuality.

Do YOU have any suggestions for best movies about women, courage and bravery? Let me know how you liked these.

World Elder Abuse Awareness Day - June 15, 2017

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For the first time in Canadian history, there are as many seniors in Canada as there are young people.  

The fact that Canadians are not only getting older but are also living longer, should trigger conversations and action, focused on the challenges this phenomenon is causing. We need discussions about what to do to prepare for the future.

Conversations need to include how best to serve the growing needs of an aging population, the types of services that will be needed, the support families will require and support and training that will be necessary for community supports to function properly.

Unfortunately, with this growth in the senior population we also see an increase in elder abuse - something that no one wants to think about or consider. But an issue that we need to face because it's REAL.

Elder abuse comes in many forms, with the most common being financial, emotional and physical. Often more than one type of abuse occurs at the same time. 

Elder abuse frequently takes place where the senior lives. It is estimated that 1 in 10 older adults experience some form of abuse in their life. Common signs of abuse to look for may include; confusion, depression, anxiety, unexplained injuries, changes in hygiene and displaying fear around certain people.

Elder abuse can happen to any older adult regardless of financial status, race, religion or sexual orientation.

With Durham residents living longer, older baby boomers are finding themselves having to care for elderly parents or taking on the difficult task of finding a long-term care facility. This added responsibility often adds extra strain and stress onto already highly stressful family and work situations. This doesn't excuse the abuse - it just means that there may be more frequent cases. 

The situation is not going to go away, it is only going to grow...faster than most of us realize. We need to start conversations about how to manage and create a better future for the care of our seniors - which by the way, will one day be us.

Do you think the issue of an increased aging population affects you and your family? How will you start the conversation?

The BEST Way to Prevent Children From Going Missing

Finally, the sunshine is appearing and with it a hope for warmer weather and the summer we've all been craving. Young people (and teachers) everywhere are doing the countdown to the end of school when they'll finally be able to do their version of the "Happy" dance.

As the end of the school year approaches it is the perfect time to talk to the kids in your life about the importance of keeping safe with the Buddy System. It's a system that's never outdated and is always effective no matter how old they are. As a matter of fact it may be even more crucial for those who are teens.

A recent study from the Canadian Centre for The Protection of Children titled "Abducted Then Murdered Children; A Canadian Study: (Preliminary Results), closely examined 147 cases between 1970 and 2010 highlighted the following facts about the importance of the Buddy System:

  • In 68% of these cases, the child was alone when abducted
  • 41% of the abductions occurred in June, July or August
  • Across all age groups, 53% were last seen between the hours of 3:30 pm to 10:00 pm
  • 45% occurred on a Friday or Saturday
  • 67% were in-transit at the time of abduction (ie: walking, biking) such as travelling to school, a friend's house, or nearby park or mall
  • The study revealed that being alone was one of the most significant risk factors for abduction

How Can You Help?

  1. Talk with your kids of all ages about the Buddy System.
  2. Reinforce the importance of the Buddy System on Social Media by sharing this post.
  3. Sign up for Missing Kids Alert at www.missingkidsalert.ca
  4. Check out www.protectchildren.ca for more ways to get involved with keeping kids of all ages safe.

Something as simple and easy as the Buddy System could mean a big difference for those you care about it. Take the few minutes to talk about it with them to ensure they have a safe and happy summer. 

Have you ever had an experience where the Buddy System protected you or someone you know?

SHOCKING NUMBERS!

There are some things that are sure to shock you. Like putting your finger in an electrical socket. Or the incredibly high price of cauliflower at your local grocery store. Or a scary movie scene. You know something awful is going to happen by the sinister feeling of suspense created by the crescendoing music, and yet you still jump. 

Something else that is really shocking: the stats on Sexual Assault in Canada.

A Numerical Representation of the Truth

  • Of every 100 incidents of sexual assault, only 6 are reported to the police
  • 1 - 2% of "date rape" sexual assaults are reported to the police
  • 1 in 4 North American women will be sexually assaulted during their lifetime
  • 11% of women have physical injury resulting for sexual assault
  • Only 2 - 4% of all sexual assaults reported are false reports
  • 60% of sexual abuse/assault victims are under the age of 17
  • over 80% of sex crime victims are women
  • 80% of sexual assault incidents occur in the home
  • 17% of girls under 16 have experienced some form of incest
  • 83% of disabled women will be sexual assaulted during their lifetime
  • 15% of sexual assault victims are boys under 16
  • half of all sexual offenders are married or in long term relationships
  • 57% of aboriginal women have been sexually abused
  • 1/5th of all sexual assaults involve a weapon of some sort
  • 80% of assailants are friends and family of the victim

The above noted statistics have been taken from various studies across Canada. While the numbers can never been 100% accurate, a few key generalizations can made:

  1. sexual assault is far more common than most would suspect
  2. relatively few incidents of sexual assault are reported to the police
  3. young and otherwise vulnerable women are most likely to be sexually abused
  4. most sexual assaults are committed by someone close to the victim, not a stranger 

**Note: These Stats have been taken from: www.sexualassault.ca

Please take the time to share this post and let everyone know that May is Sexual Assault Awareness Month. And tell us if you are shocked at the stats on Sexual Assault in Canada.

You can get more information about how to help, or how to get help at: 

www.vpccdurham.org/sexual-assault  or  https://drcc.ca

May is Sexual Assault Awareness Month

The Violence Prevention Coordinating Council of Durham (VPCC) is dedicating this month to raising awareness of issues related to sexual violence and promoting ways to prevent and end sexual assault.

We want to have conversations about challenging rape culture, victim blaming, sexual violence on and off campus, stats and myths, and what you can do to help.

Begin the month with us by going to http://www.vpccdurham.org/sexual-assault for more information. Leave your comments below if you want to see change when it comes to sexual violence or if you are a survivor who wants to speak out, ask questions or if you are looking for help.