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Friday, December 6, 2019

Vigils For Women Impacted By Violence

Grey Bruce | by Claire McCormack  

Violence Prevention Grey Bruce says the examples we set can help protect women from abuse.

Friday is the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women.

Vigils will be held in Grey Bruce to mark the day and to remember the 14 women who were murdered by a gunman at Ecole Polytechnique in Montreal in 1989.

Violence Prevention Grey Bruce Coordinator Jon Farmer says violence against women is a local problem, just like it is across Canada and around the world.

A vigil will be held in Owen Sound at noon at Georgian College and in Port Elgin at Coulter Parkette at noon.

Farmer says half of the women in Canada experience some form of physical or sexual violence during their lifetime, and notes women aged 15-24 account for almost half of self-reported sexual assaults.

Farmer says stats show women are also more likely to experience elder abuse and account for 60 per cent of senior survivors of family violence.

He explains violence against women can be mental, emotional, and economic.

Mental and emotional abuse can include socially isolating someone, jealous behaviour, frequent criticism, threats or intimidation, withholding information or restricting their ability to make decisions and controlling behaviour.

Economic abuse can include one partner keeping the other from using the couple's money, keeping them in the dark about money matters, not allowing them to work, or running up debts in joint accounts or in the other partner's name among other abuses.

Farmer says abusive behaviour is often learned as a person grows up, "Stereotypes and discriminatory beliefs about women first plant the seeds of violence through the lessons we give our children."

He says we need to spend more time teaching about healthy relationships,  "Building trust and support and having people feel valued and not feeling entitled to women or to their bodies."

For women who need support after experiencing violence, the Women's Centre Grey and Bruce and Women's House Serving Bruce and Grey offer emergency shelter, crisis lines, counselling, advocacy and court support.

Victim Services can provide funding to support recent victims of violence.

The Sexual Assault and Partner Abuse Care Centre at Grey Bruce Health Services also offers on-going counselling to survivors of sexual and intimate partner violence.

Meanwhile Farmer says the leadership class at Owen Sound District Secondary School has focused events and activities throughout the past 16 days to raise awareness. Farmer says last year's class created a video about consent.

The local arts group Sheatre has interactive performances about relationship violence and elder abuse and was just recognized with the YMCA peace medallion for decades of its work in the community.

Violence Prevention Grey Bruce has an Arts for Change contest this winter to encourage students in grades 7-12 to create art about healthy relationships.

The Men's Program has a group for men to examine and to end their violence. There is another for fathers to expand  their approaches to parenting.

You can learn more at violencepreventiongreybruce.com

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