#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 firstname.lastname@example.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 email@example.com 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