But sometimes it does...

Each year hundreds of women, children and seniors in Durham Region, experience physical, emotional, financial and sexual abuse and violence - all in the name of "love".

That's why the Violence Prevention Coordinating Council (VPCC) has initiated a year-long #loveshouldnthurt
Campaign.


Through this campaign we are encouraging those who live, work and play in Durham Region to take time to learn about the issues of violence against women and to take action to ensure all women live free from abuse and violence in all its forms.

It doesn't take much to make a difference. You can get started today by:

  •  Completing the pledge statement: "Because #loveshouldnthurt, I will..............................................................

          Use your smartphone to take a picture of your commitment, then upload it to Facebook, Twitter or Instagram using the hashtag: 

          #loveshouldnthurtdurham

  • Start a conversation about violence against women and what you can do to help.
  • Champion the #loveshouldnthurt Campaign in your workplace, community and home.
  • Designate February 2018, as #loveshouldnthurt Month.
  • Come back to this page often to access new resources. (See Below)
  • The first Monday of every month we'll be posting great ideas to keep the campaign moving forward and the conversation going.. 
 

Do you know what domestic violence looks like? Can you spot the signs? Would you know what to do even if you did?

Thanks to DomesticShelters.org - you can learn more about it - maybe even begin a conversation because #loveshouldnthurt.

#domesticviolence #endviolenceagainstwomen #thetruth #loveshouldnthurt

Would you like to know more? Let us know what you'd be interested in learning about when it comes to violence against women. Send us an email at: info@vpccdurham.org or go to the bottom of this page and sign up to receive our newsletter.

 

The Best. Mother's Day. Ever.

#loveshouldnthurt

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It's hard to imagine so many mothers enduring violence and abuse in the name of love.

It's hard to imagine that so many moms will be spending "their" day in a shelter fleeing abuse and violence. 

In the midst of celebrating the women who have brought us into this world and the many women who help us maneuver the ups and downs of life - it's hard to imagine...

6000+

THE NUMBER OF WOMEN AND CHILDREN WHO SLEEP IN SHELTERS ON ANY GIVEN NIGHT BECAUSE IT ISN'T SAFE AT HOME

1 in 6

CANADIANS ACKNOWLEDGE THEIR MOTHERS HAVE BEEN ABUSED AND VICTIMS OF VIOLENCE.

67%

THE PERCENTAGE OF CANADIANS WHO KNOW A WOMAN WHO HAS EXPERIENCED PHYSICAL OR SEXUAL ABUSE.

(Canadian Women's Foundation)

It won't take much to make her day a great one. Just. Love. Her.

#loveshouldnhurt #mothersday #justloveher #ifyoulovehershowher

 

"Times up on women being held responsible for men's bad behaviour. It is men's responsibility to change men's bad behaviour.

Our culture is shifting and it's time."

 
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What are your thoughts about healthy or unhealthy relationships?

Go ahead and start the conversation.  #loveshouldnthurt #loveshouldnthurtdurham #starttheconversation #itseasy

 
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#loveshouldnthurt Contest

Do you want a trip to Hawaii? How about a new car?....Sorry this isn't the contest for you. But if you want to help raise awareness for the prevention of Violence Against Women and have a chance to win $100.00...then you are in the right place!

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9 Little Ideas to Make a Big Difference

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Engaging Men as Allies to Prevent Violence Against Women

 

9 Ways to be Accountable When You've Been Abusive

Note: This is an excerpt from Everyday Feminism. Click here for the full article.

"The fact is that there are extremely few resources and organizations out there with the mandate, will, and/or knowledge to how to help people stop being abusive. 

"But doesn’t the feminist saying go, “We shouldn’t be teaching people how not to get raped, we should be teaching people not to rape?”

"And if so, doesn’t it follow that we shouldn’t only support people who have survived abuse, we should also support people in learning how not to abuse?

"When we are able to admit that the capacity to harm lies within ourselves – within us all – we become capable of radically transforming the conversation around abuse and rape culture. We can go from simply reacting to abuse and punishing “abusers” to preventing abuse and healing our communities.

"Because the revolution starts at home, as they say. The revolution starts in your house, in your own relationships, in your bedroom. The revolution starts in your heart."

The following is a nine-step guide to confronting the abuser in you, in me, in us all.

1. Listen to the Survivor

When one has been abusive, the very first – and one of the most difficult – skills of holding oneself accountable is learning to simply listen to the person or people whom one has harmed:5

Listening without becoming defensive.

Listening without trying to equivocate or make excuses.

Listening without minimizing or denying the extent of the harm.

Listening without trying to make oneself the center of the story being told.

When someone, particularly a partner or loved one, tells you that you have hurt or abused them, it can be easy to understand this as an accusation or attack. Very often, this is our first assumption – that we are being attacked.

This is why so many perpetrators of abuse respond to survivors who confront them by saying something along the lines of, “I’m not abusing you. You are abusing me, right now, with this accusation!”

But this is the cycle of violence talking. This is the script that rape culture has built for us: a script in which there must be a hero and a villain, a right and a wrong, an accuser and an accused. 

What if we understood being confronted about perpetuating abuse as an act of courage – even a gift – on the part of the survivor?

What if, instead of reacting immediately in our own defense, we instead took the time to listen, to really try to understand the harm we might have done to another person? 

When we think of accountability in terms of listening and love instead of accusation and punishment, everything changes.

2. Take Responsibility For the Abuse

After listening, the next step in holding oneself accountable is taking responsibility for the abuse. This means, simply enough, agreeing that you and only you are the source of physical, emotional, or psychological violence directed toward another person. 

A simple analogy for taking responsibility for abuse can be made to taking responsibility for stepping on someone else’s foot: There are many reasons why you might do such a thing – you were in a hurry, you weren’t looking where you were going, or maybe no one ever taught you that it was wrong to step on other people’s feet. 

But you still did it. No one else – only you are responsible, and it is up to you to acknowledge and apologize for it.

The same holds true for abuse: No one, and I really mean no one – not your partner, not patriarchy, not mental illness, not society, not the Devil – is responsible for the violence that you do to another person.

A lot of factors can contribute to or influence one’s reasons for committing abuse (see the point below), but in the end, only I am responsible for my actions, as you are for yours.

3. Accept That Your Reasons Are Not Excuses

There is an awful, pervasive myth out there that people who abuse others do so simply because they are bad people – because they are sadistic, or because they enjoy other people’s pain. 

This is, I think, part of the reason why so many people who have been abusive in the past or present resist the use of the terms “abuse” or “abuser” to describe their behavior. In fact, very, very, very few people who abuse are motivated to do so by sadism. 

In my experience as a therapist and community support worker, when people are abusive, it’s usually because they have a reason based in desperation or suffering.

Some reasons for abusive behavior I have heard include:

I am isolated and alone, and the only person who keeps me alive is my partner. This is why I can’t let my partner leave me.

My partner hurts me all the time. I was just hurting them back.

I am sick, and if I don’t force people to take care of me, then I will be left to die.

I am suffering, and the only way to relieve the pain is to hurt myself or others.

I didn’t know that what I was doing was abuse. People always did the same to me. I was just following the script.

No one will love me unless I make them.

 

All of these are powerful, real reasons for abuse – but they are also never excuses. There is no reason good enough to excuse abusive behavior.

Reasons help us understand abuse, but they do not excuse it. 

Accepting this is essential to transforming culpability into accountability and turning justice into healing.

4. Don’t Play the ‘Survivor Olympics’

As I mentioned above, communities tend to operate on a survivor/abuser or victim/perpetrator dichotomy model of abuse. This is the belief that people who have survived abuse in one relationship can never be abusive in other relationships.

I find that social justice or leftist communities also tend to misapply social analysis to individual situations of abuse, suggesting that individuals who belong to oppressed or marginalized groups can never abuse individuals who belong to privileged groups (that is, that women can never abuse men, racialized people can never abuse white people, and so on).

But neither of the above ideas is true.  Survivors of abuse in one relationship can, in fact, be abusive in other relationships.

And it’s for privileged individuals to abuse others because of the extra power social privilege gives them, but anyone is capable of abusing anyone given the right (or rather, wrong) circumstances.

It can be easy, when confronted with the abuse we have perpetrated, to try and play “survivor Olympics.” 

“I can’t be abusive,” we may want to argue, “I’m a survivor!” Or “The abuse I have survived is so much worse than what you’re accusing me of!” Or “Nothing I do is abusive to you, because you have more privilege than me.”

But survivors can be abusers, too.

Anyone can be abusive, and comparing or trivializing doesn’t absolve us of responsibility for it.

5. Take the Survivor’s Lead

When having a dialogue with someone who has abused, it’s essential to give the survivor the space to take the lead on expressing their needs and setting boundaries.

If you have abused someone, it’s not up to you to decide how the process of healing or accountability should work.

Instead, it might be a good idea to try asking the person who has confronted you questions like: What do you need right now? Is there anything I can do to make this feel better? How much contact would you like to have with me going forward? If we share a community, how should I navigate situations where we might end up in the same place? How does this conversation feel for you, right now?

At the same time, it’s important to understand that the needs of survivors of abuse can change over time, and that survivors may not always know right away – or ever – what their needs are. 

Being accountable and responsible for abuse means being patient, flexible, and reflective about the process of having dialogue with the survivor.

6. Face the Fear of Accountability

Being accountable for abuse takes a lot of courage.

We live in a culture that demonizes and oversimplifies abuse, probably because we don’t want to accept the reality that abuse is actually commonplace and can be perpetrated by anybody.

A lot of people paint themselves into corners denying abuse, because, to be quite honest, it’s terrifying to face the consequences, real and imagined, of taking responsibility.

And there are real risks: People have lost friends, communities, jobs, and resources over abuse.  The risks are especially high for marginalized individuals – I am thinking particularly of Black and Brown folks here – who are likely to face harsh, discriminatory sentencing in legal processes. 

There is nothing I can say to make this hard reality easier.

I can only suggest that when it comes to ending abuse, it’s easier to face our fear than live in it all of our lives. It’s more healing to tell the truth than to hide inside a lie. 

When we hold ourselves accountable, we prove that the myth of the “monster” abuser is a lie.

7. Separate Guilt from Shame

Shame and social stigma are powerful emotional forces that can prevent us from holding ourselves accountable for being abusive: We don’t want to admit to “being that person,” so we don’t admit to having been abusive at all.

Some people might suggest that people who have been abusive ought to feel shame – after all, perpetrating abuse is wrong. I would argue, though, that this is where the difference between guilt and shame is key:

Guilt is feeling bad about something you’ve done. Shame is feeling bad about who you are.

People who have been abusive should feel guilty – guilty for the specific acts of abuse they are responsible for. They should not feel shame about who they are, because this means that abuse has become a part of their identity.

It means that they believe that they are fundamentally a bad person – in other words, an abuser.”

But if you believe that you are an “abuser,” a bad person who hurts others, then you have already lost the struggle for change – because we cannot change who we are.

If you believe that you are a fundamentally good person who has done hurtful or abusive things, then you open the possibility for change.

8. Don’t Expect Anyone to Forgive You

Being accountable is not, fundamentally, about earning forgiveness.  That is to say, it doesn’t matter how accountable you are – nobody has to forgive you for being abusive, least of all the person you have abused.

In fact, using the process of “doing” accountability to try and manipulate or coerce someone into giving their forgiveness to you is an extension of the abuse dynamic. It centers the abuser, not the survivor. 

One shouldn’t try aim for forgiveness when holding oneself accountable. Rather, self-accountability is about learning how we have harmed others, why we have harmed others, and how we can stop.

But…

9. Forgive Yourself

You do have to forgive yourself.  Because you can’t stop hurting other people until you stop hurting yourself.

When one is abusive, when one is hurting so much on the inside, that it feels like the only way to make it stop is to hurt other people, it can be terrifying to face the hard truth of words like abuse and accountability.  One might rather blame others, blame society, blame the people we love, instead of ourselves.

This is true, I think, of community as well as individuals. It is so much easier, so much simpler, to create hard lines between good and bad people, to create walls to shut the shadowy archetype of “the abuser” out instead of mirrors to look at the abuser within. 

Perhaps this is why self-accountability tools like this list are so rare.

It takes courage to be accountable. To decide to heal. 

But when we do decide, we discover incredible new possibilities: There is good in everyone. Anyone is capable of change. And you are braver than you know.

Kai Cheng Thom is a Contributing Writer for Everyday Feminism. She is a Chinese trans woman writer, poet, and performance artist based in Montreal. She also holds a Master’s degree in clinical social work, and is working toward creating accessible, politically conscious mental health care for marginalized youth in her community. You can find out more about her work on her website and at Monster Academy

What do you think about these 9 Ways to be Accountable When You've Been Abusive?

Don't forget to Share the article with your community. #loveshouldnthurt, #vpccofdurham, #toxicmasculinity

 

#loveshouldnthurtdurhm 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 we 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