Flag raising in Dufferin show support for survivors of gender-based violence

December 1, 2022   ·   0 Comments

By Sam Odrowski

A gesture of support for women who endure violence and abuse was made locally last week.

With November being Violence Against Women Prevention Month and last Friday being the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, a flag-raising ceremony was held in Orangeville on Thursday (Nov. 24) and Shelburne on Friday (Nov. 25)

Members of council and representatives from Family Transition Place (FTP) were in attendance to raise FTP’s “End Gender-Based Violence” flag on Thursday, which also promotes the province-wide Wrapped in Courage campaign.

The campaign generates funds for shelters that serve victims of domestic violence through the sale of purple scarves. 

But the scarves don’t only help create revenue for shelters across Ontario, they demonstrate a commitment to ending femicide and gender-based violence. 

The scarves act as a symbol of the courage needed by communities in supporting survivors of violence and the commitment to turn awareness into accountability to end gender-based violence.

“Gender-based violence is, unfortunately, a part of our society that continues in 2022,” said Orangeville councillor Joe Andrews. “There are so many stories that have been shared. So many of us who have been connected in some way, in some capacity, through our roles in our community, we have unfortunately been privileged to some of those stories and it really becomes problematic from my perspective that this is a continuum in our society.”

While reading a proclamation by the Town of Orangeville declaring International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, Coun. Andrews noted femicide rates are on the rise in Ontario and there were over 51 femicides between Nov. 2021 and Nov. 2022.

“Last year in Ontario, on average every eight days a women or child was killed by a man known to them,” Coun. Andrews remarked.

And while physical violence poses a serious risk to women in relationships, mental and emotional abuse also has a significant impact.

Coercive control is one form of psychological abuse that FTP’s executive director Norah Kennedy says is common among the women her organization serves.

“When you think about abuse and you think about where it comes from, it’s all about power and control. Coercive control fits right into that model. It’s about controlling someone. It’s about having power over them,” explained Kennedy.

This can come in the form of isolating a partner from seeing their friends and family, deciding who they can talk to, what they can spend money on, where they can go, and when they can eat. It is essentially taking control over all aspects of someone’s life, leaving them with nowhere else to turn to.

Unlike Ireland, Australia, and the U.K., Canada does not have a law against coercive control and Kennedy says the country’s laws should be strengthened. Since coercive control is often harder to prove, there should also be something in the legal system to better support victims, she told the Citizen.

Kennedy noted that there is already precedent to work off of from other countries that have enacted laws, which would help with getting one approved in Canada.

She also shared some advice for victims of coercive control and domestic violence.

“Tell somebody about it,” said Kennedy. “That can be the biggest first step. Because for many women living in abusive situations, the isolation, the control, the fear, the being convinced that you’re the one in the wrong can make it really difficult to reach out.

“But when you get to that point, tell a neighbour, tell a family member, a friend that you’re going through this, so if you need to leave in a hurry, you’ve got a place to go. Pack a bag, leave your private papers with a friend or a neighbour, and then reach out for help if you can.”

Family Transition Place has a 24/7 crisis line 519-941-HELP (4357) to call if in need of support.

“When you’re ready and when it is safe for you, reach out to an organization like Family Transition Place,” said Kennedy. “Look for help where you can.”

There is an opportunity for the public to support FTP and victims of domestic violence at 11:30 a.m. on Dec. 6, the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women just outside of 20 Bredin Parkway, Orangeville.

“It’s the day that we look back to decades gone by in 1988, when young women were killed at the Ecole de Polytechnic in Montreal and to honour and remember all the women who have been killed in our communities across the province, across the country and the world.”


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