The Power to Make A Difference

The enormous power to change a corner of the world is within your own homes.

Ahhh.....Valentine's Day. A day of romance, hugs, kisses, flowers and of course chocolate.

(Insert record screeching to a halt, here...)

In many homes and relationships this is the stuff of fairy tales. It's what you see on television or in the movies. There are countless numbers of individuals in our communities that never know the feeling of safety and love within the walls of their own home.

So how can we make a difference?

There's never been a time when building a strong foundation of love within our families has been more important. Our family members are bombarded by so much negativity in the news, at school, the workplace and the world in general. We need to make fortifying our homes a necessary priority. Here are a few simple ways:

  1. Treat each other with compassion, love and respect - not just on Valentine's Day but in our day-to-day interactions.
  2. Remember it's the little things that count. Parents, be examples of service to each other, your children and your community.
  3. Fathers...love your children's mother. It shows your true strength and it is the most important thing you can do for your children. The way you treat your wives and women in your life could have the greatest impact on your sons and daughters. If a father is guilty of inflicting any kind of abuse on his wife, his children will resent him for it and likely follow the same pattern of abuse.
  4. Show them you love them. You can tell them all you want but they know the truth by your actions.
  5. Make your home a safe place to share emotions, thoughts and feelings.

Lastly....

"Love is the remedy for ailing families, ill communities and sick nations. Love is a smile, a wave, a kind comment and a compliment. Love is sacrifice, service and selflessness." Thomas S. Monson

It's not hard to make a difference for those that really matter in your life. Strengthen your little corner of the world with love and have a Happy Valentine's Day!

What do you think about the idea that strengthening your family can actually make a difference in the world?

 

UNFOUNDED in Durham

          Can't think of how to show a little love to the   women in                                             your life?                How about giving a novel idea...  BELIEVE THEM! 

        Can't think of how to show a little love to the women in                                             your life?

            How about giving a novel idea...BELIEVE THEM! 

 

UN-FOUND-ED:

Having no foundation or basis in fact. Synonyms: baseless, groundless, unsubstantiated, unproven, unsupported without basis, without foundation.

Leading up to Valentine's Day, The Globe and Mail released a 20-month long investigative report that revealed in Canada police dismiss 1 out of every 5 sexual assault reports as "unfounded". This basically means that police believe the crime didn't happen.

Not a very romantic notion - but an excellent report and the most comprehensive review of sexual-assault rates ever conducted in Canada.

The Globe reported that when Canadian police officers complete an investigation, they use a closure code to show the outcome. "The code "unfounded" indicates that the officer does not believe a crime was attempted or committed. Once a case is coded as unfounded it virtually disappears from public record. The case is never reported to Stats Canada which has huge implications for police and victim services funding." (Unfounded: Will the Police Believe You?)

"The Globe's findings suggest that police in Canada are closing a disproportionate number of rape cases as unfounded, a phenomenon that distorts the country's crime statistics" (Unfounded: How police and politicians have responded to The Globe’s investigation so far. Feb. 11, 2017, The Globe and Mail)

See Video:

The Globe sent out nearly 250 freedom of information requests to 178 police services to obtain confidential unfounded data from 1,119 police jurisdictions across the country. They received responses from 873 jurisdictions, representing 92 per cent of the Canadian population.

The unfounded sexual-assault rate in Canada from 2010 to 2014 is 19 per cent. That means 27,740 of 143,053 allegations have been screened out of the justice system.  Experts say that these high stats are a symptom of a broken system.

Get the full article here: 

You can even find out the unfounded rate where you live. Go to the link above and just scroll down until the field appears at the top of your screen. Enter your city, town or county name to get the stats of unfounded cases in your area.

The 5-year unfounded sexual assault rate for Durham Region is 24 per cent. That means 533 of 2,189 allegations were dismissed as never happening.

No wonder the majority of women affected by sexual-assault don't report. These stats are high compared to the national average of 19 per cent. 

"Every year, an average of 5,500 people (across Canada) are reporting sexual violence to Canadian police, but their cases are dropping out of the system as unfounded long before a Crown prosecutor, judge or jury has a chance to weight in."  (Unfounded: Why Police Dismiss 1 in 5 Sexual-Assault Claims As Baseless, Feb. 3, 2017)

What Experts Say Can Be Done Better:

Robin Dolittle, The Globe's lead reporter for this study spoke with educators, criminologists, trauma experts and lawyers who offered clear ideas about what should be done to address the issues raised by the Unfounded investigation:

  • Statistics Canada should release unfounded statistics.
  • Police forces should adopt better standardized protocols for how police should handle sex-assault cases.
  • Police should be better taught how to interview sexual-assault survivors, such as interviewing them a few days after the incident, when their memories are clearer, instead of immediately after.
  • There should be better and more consistent oversight of how police forces deal with sexual assault.

There are even stats showing an improved effect when female police officers are investigating the cases.

"Some advocates are urging Canada to adopt the so-called Philadelphia Model, a 17-year-old initiative in which women’s advocates do annual reviews of sexual-assault case files with high-ranking officers. Since adopting that model, the U.S. city has slashed its unfounded rate from 18 per cent to about 4 per cent."     (Unfounded: How police and politicians have responded to The Globe’s investigation so far. Feb. 11, 2017, The Globe and Mail)

Another action that can be taken is to write your Police Services Board, requesting that they undertake a comprehensive review of all non-investigated sexual-assault claims in their jurisdiction.

Since the date of The Globe and Mail's report, several Police Boards have committed to reviewing unfounded cases for investigation. 

"Within a week of the Unfounded investigation’s debut, more than 30 police forces representing more than 1,000 communities had announced investigations into sexual-assault cases that were deemed “unfounded.” More are likely to follow after the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police urged “all police services to review practices around sexual-assault investigations.”  Let's hope that Durham Regional Police Service is one of those looking to review their practices.   (Unfounded: How police and politicians have responded to The Globe's investigation so far. Feb. 11, 2017, The Globe and Mail)

What action(s) do you think should take place to lower the stats of "Unfounded" sexual-assault cases?

 

A Little Soap Goes a Long Way

I don't think I need to tell you what a tragic week it has been for refugees, immigrants, the Canadian Muslim community and people all over the world. 

Our thoughts and prayers go to the individuals and families affected by those who were gunned down at a Quebec City mosque on Sunday night.

To those who have been delayed and maybe even denied finding freedom from oppression, murder and other ravages of war by the US Executive Order on Immigration, we want you to know that we stand with you as Canadians who will speak loudly for the world to hear. We oppose intolerance wherever and whenever we see it.

Promoting stories that stand in contrast to every lie that is being perpetuated about refugees and immigrants is a powerful tool for us to use. We need to share positive stories of refugees and immigrants as widely as we can. We need to stop the fear by sharing truth about what Canadians have gained from welcoming refugees and newcomers to Canada.

There are many other ways you can help as well:   

  • Make a donation to one of the several funds that have been set up to help surviving family members
  • Contact a refugee organization to see where your help is needed IE: www.ccrweb.ca www.islamicreliefcanada.org/Refugees   ‎  www.canadahelps.org/‎     

On another note...as this is the last day of Human Trafficking Awareness Month (2017), I wanted to share a positive experience of another group of oppressed and silenced individuals.

We can do a lot for any group who are victims. Whether it be victims of oppression, abuse, murder or unjust and unlawful use of power...a little bit of soap can go a long way.

Pre-Living the Life

Ahhhh! It is over.

Everything is cleaned up. Tree and decorations are put away. Clutter has been disposed of and everything feels fresh. I’m ready to begin again.

Don’t get me wrong – it’s not that I don’t enjoy the holiday season; it’s just that I really like the feeling of getting ready to start something new. To begin again. To have a “clean slate” in front of me. It’s the feeling I get when I open a fresh notebook. The empty pages are filled with possibilities.

Natasha Bedingfield says it best in her song, “Unwritten”.

I am unwritten.

Can’t read my mind, I’m undefined.

I’m just beginning. The pen’s in my hand. Ending unplanned.

….Today is where your book begins. The rest is still unwritten.

Despite the cold, wintry weather and the fact that I’d rather be on a sunny beach somewhere, I love the feelings that January brings.

Some people like to make resolutions for the upcoming year. Some think it’s a waste of time, knowing that they will only break them within a few days or weeks. Some make resolutions without really thinking about what they are and how powerful they can be.

I’m a resolution maker, only because it gives hope for a better me, optimism for a better future and it’s an  excuse to get a new planner and notebook.

January was actually named after Janus, a Roman god of doors and beginnings. Janus had an interesting characteristic: he had two faces.  With one face, he looked back over the past year to review his mistakes and his successes. With the other face, he looked into the future to make plans for the new year, and to consider what he needed to do to experience success.

It’s interesting to think how similar we are to Janus…except that most of us don’t have two heads. We can look back to review our past and we can look ahead to determine what our future will be like.

How exciting that by taking time to create a vision we can “pre-live our lives”. January can be a time when we dream of a new year full of possibilities and plan for more satisfaction and success.  We can create a vision of what we want our futures to look like. We can “pre-live” the things that we will accomplish and the person that we’ll become.

So. do it! Even if it hasn’t worked out in the past; you’re older and wiser now. Go get a new planner and a new notebook.  Write down the things that you loved about last year, the experiences that made you stronger and where you want to improve. Then “look” into the future. “Pre-live” your life for 2017 by envisioning what you want to have happen. Create your plans and then commit to do what it takes to make them a reality.

What’s your “pre-lived” life and resolutions for 2017? Are you a resolution maker or do you think it's a waste of time?

A REALITY OF CHRISTMAS...

A Happy Christmas Shouldn't Be Taken For Granted

Domestic violence is never okay, least of all at Christmastime.

 17/11/2016 12:51 PM AEDT | Updated 27/11/2016 6:04 AM AEDT

·    Cathy ZervosRelationship counsellor, manager at BaptistCare Relationship Services

When most people think about special occasions such as Christmas, it usually conjures up fond memories. Granted it can be a stressful period for a lot of parents tasked with what feels like a never-ending cycle of cooking, cleaning and buying presents. But at the end of the day, most anticipate it being a joyful occasion. A time we spend with our loved ones; a time for giving, enjoying great food, and the magic of the holiday season. Children, especially, build up so much excitement as Christmas gets closer and closer.

Sadly, this is not the case for all families.

The reality for many at Christmastime is starkly different. Families living with domestic violence face much anxiety and uncertainty at this time of year. While it may be hard to imagine this reality, we have the opportunity to shine a light on and talk about family violence, something that is, too often, hidden behind the veil of private, 'family' business.

I frequently see women living with violence who will do everything in their power to create a peaceful and nurturing environment, particularly at Christmastime. In wanting to maintain an intact family and shield their children from the impact of the abuse, they may stay in an unsafe situation, despite their better instincts telling them that they should leave. Leaving, however, creates greater risk of escalating violence. There are no easy choices here.

Abuse and violence is very different from regular relationship conflict. Rather than negotiating differences and reaching compromise, it is the intentional abuse of one person's power to disadvantage or disempower another. Happiness and excitement are replaced by grief and terror. Children come to associate special occasions with dread and anxiety.

The added stress and pressures experienced by people who are living with domestic violence often heighten. Whilst maintaining an appearance of celebration and happiness, victims live with the fear, uncertainty and unpredictability of violence and abuse. They fear for the emotional and often physical safety of their children, living in a constant state of stress - stress that their children feel instinctively.

Christmas is traditionally a time of increased consumption of alcohol, contributing to greater volatility and stress. The level of tension experienced by families in this situation is extremely anxiety provoking. It stretches a victim's ability to cope to its limits and a child's challenging behaviours are a clear signal of the stress and volatility that they are exposed to.

Domestic violence is not okay at any time of the year and Christmas is no exception. I cannot emphasize enough that the pressures of Christmas never justify or cause the violence. What we must never lose sight of is that a perpetrator of violence always has a choice and is responsible for their use of controlling, coercive and violent behaviour.

 

Annual Conference to Examine Sexual Violence in Durham Region

Durham Regional Police Service (DRPS) and The Violence Prevention Coordinating Council of Durham (VPCC) have partnered for the third year to bring community leaders together in the fight to end Violence Against Women.

The conference, “In Our Backyard: The Reality of Sexual Violence in Durham Region,” will be held on November 17, 2016 in Oshawa.  It will be a meeting of community partners who regularly interact with victims of sexual violence, including police, crown attorneys, community agencies, health professionals and educators.

Participants will learn from leading experts, specialists, frontline workers and Timea Nagy, a survivor of sex-trafficking and author of “Memoirs of a Sex Slave Survivor”.  The conference will cover emerging trends in human trafficking, sexual assault on our campuses and in our communities, as well as sexual violence for our senior population and best practices to improve supports and results for survivors. 

Minister Tracy MacCharles, Minister responsible for Women’s Issues, will attend the Conference and provide opening remarks. Minister MacCharles received a mandate from Premier Wynne in 2014, to continue Ontario’s work to end violence against women. She has been instrumental in the release of “It’s Never Okay: An Action Plan to Stop Sexual Violence & Harassment, released in March 2015 and the Ontario Strategy to End Human Trafficking, released in June. She also works with the permanent violence against women roundtable, which provides advice to government on issues of gendered violence.

“The impact of sexual violence, harassment and exploitation on survivors and their families can be devastating and last generations,” says Tracy MacCharles, Minister Responsible for Women’s Issues. “Change is possible and we must work together to ensure everyone can live in safety.”

“This conference is of particular importance for our community.” says Sandra McCormack, Executive Director of The Denise House, an Emergency Shelter for Women and Children. “Sexual Violence in its many forms is a serious problem in our region. Minister MacCharles’ request for community leaders to help bring about change, is a timely one. Now more than ever, we need to look at ways to stop sexual violence before it starts. We need to come together to consider what’s taking place in Durham – in our own backyard, and the action required to end it.”

Date:  November 17, 2016

Location: The Jubilee Pavilion & Conference Centre, 55 Lakeview Park Ave, Oshawa

Special Guest: Minister Tracy MacCharles, Minister Responsible for Women’s Issues

Time: Conference takes place from 8:00 a.m. to 4:30p.m. with Minister MacCharles speaking at 8:40 a.m.

For more information contact info@vpccdurham.org or call 905-728-4968

Sexual Violence Conference 2016

IN OUR BACKYARD: THE REALITY OF SEXUAL VIOLENCE IN DURHAM REGION

Durham Regional Police Service and the Violence Prevention Coordinating Council of Durham are co-hosting a Sexual Violence Conference, November 17, 2016.

Timea Nagy, Author: "Memoirs of a Sex Slave Survivor and Founder: Walk with Me will be among the many presenters, specialists and experts who will guide us through an exploration of topics, causes, effects and strategies for preventing and combating sexual violence and human trafficking that's taking place right here..."In Our Backyard".

Register at: info@vpccdurham.org         Registration Fee: $50.00 early  $55.00 at the door (registration includes: continental breakfast, refreshments and lunch)

For more information or to register contact: info@vpccdurham.org

So Absurd...It Could Almost Be Funny

We live in a world where sexual assault is dismissed with jokes, excuses, and minimal criminal punishment with time off for "good behaviour" as the price to pay.

Rape culture is an environment where sexual violence is both normalized and excused, and where victims are often blamed for the crimes committed against them.  It includes the objectification of women's bodies and the glamorization of sexual violence, creating a society that disregards women's rights and safety.

Victim blaming is also part of rape culture. Victim blaming reinforces that it is the victim's fault and makes it harder for the victim to come forward and report the assault. There's often confusion around victim blaming and its damaging effects - so just in case you are unsure what it looks like, watch this video.

 

Be clear: It is never the victim's fault! 

Murder is murder and rape is rape.

 

 

Beat the Heat: 5 Eye-Opening Movies to Watch From Home

Summer movie season is here and hotly-anticipated blockbusters are hitting the theatres. But before you join the hoards of moviegoers there are some great. eye-opening flicks to see from the comfort of your own home.

These films are documentary shockers made up of real-life experiences, speaking to issues around violence against women. While some include disturbing subject matter, all offer candid disclosure about serious topics that will leave you with a whole new perspective.   

All of the films are available on Netflix except for The Invisible War, which you can find on YouTube and the link provided below.

The Invisible War (2012) 

Director: Kirby Dick

An investigative and powerfully emotional film about the epidemic of rape of soldiers within the US military, the institutions that perpetuate and cover up its existence, and its profound personal and social consequences. (IMDb)

 

The Hunting Ground (2015)

Director: Kirby Dick

An expose of rape crimes on US college campuses, their institutional cover-ups and the devastating toll they take on students and their families. (IMDb)

She's Beautiful When She's Angry (2014)

Director: Mary Dore

This film tells the story of the brilliant, brave and often outrageous women who founded the feminist movement of the 1960's.  They said 'the personal is political' and made a revolution in the bedroom, in the workplace, in all spheres of life.  Called threatening by the FBI, yet ignored in many histories, these women changed the world. (IMDb)

The Mask You Live In (2015)

Director: Jennifer Siebel Newsom

Explores how our culture's narrow definition of masculinity is harming boys, men and society at large and unveils what we can do about it. (IMDb)

Miss Representation (2011)

Director: Jennifer Siebel Newsom

Explores the under-representation of women in positions of power and influence in America and challenges the media's limited portrayal of what it means to be a woman. (IMDb)