Healing Gaia

November is Woman Abuse Awareness Month

Most men are not abusive, but we need to get all young boys and men involved if we're going to be successful in eliminating woman abuse.

By Doreen Nicoll
Published October 28, 2014

Saturday, November 1 is the start of Woman Abuse Awareness Month. I like to think of it as a chance to open a dialogue that will prevent, perhaps even eradicate, gendered violence in our communities.

This month-long campaign helps us focus on the root cause of woman abuse: namely, gender inequality. This inequality takes many forms including: street harassment; physical, sexual, emotional, verbal, financial, spiritual, social abuse; criminal harassment and stalking; and victim blaming.

It's perpetuated throughout our society thanks to a sense of entitlement that has been indoctrinated into some of our young boys and men. This means that women are viewed as less than equal and can lead to men mistakenly believing that they have the right to exert power and control over the women in their lives.

Here are a few facts to help you get the discussion underway:

To end gendered violence and femicide, we must continue to be a caring and compassionate society while directing our efforts toward establishing gender equity as the norm.

This includes creating a living wage; affordable child care; more second stage housing for women and their children to use when they leave the safety of a shelter; additional affordable housing in each community; access to micro loans to assist women with first and last month's rent, deposits for utilities, and some basic furnishings.

Considering that each femicide costs society over a million dollars when you include lost time at work, hospital visits, counselling, police involvement, court costs, funeral costs, coroner's inquests, then my modest list is very affordable - not to mention humane.

For the past five years, the Shine the Light campaign has embraced the colour purple as a symbol of courage, survival and honour.

During November, decorate the outside of your home, office, store with purple lights. When people ask what you're doing, tell them you're shining the light on gendered violence. Then engage that person in a meaningful discussion about how they can play a role in keeping women and children safe from abuse.

On Tuesday, November 25, show solidarity by wrapping yourself in a snuggly purple scarf that can be purchased for $15 at local women's shelters as part of the Wrapped in Courage campaign.

Most men are not abusive, but we need to get all young boys and men involved as part of the solution if we're going to be successful. Engage young boys and men in meaningful discussions focused on gendered violence.

Encourage them to wear purple and to participate in events throughout the month. Visit the White Ribbon website for information, ideas and events.

The official launch of Woman Abuse Awareness month in Halton takes place Thursday, November 6 at 10 am. at 1151 Bronte Rd., Oakville in the Rotunda.

Doreen Nicoll is a feminist and a member of several community organizations working diligently to end poverty, hunger and gendered violence.


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By ItJustIs (registered) | Posted October 29, 2014 at 09:36:12


If, as a society we can move away from this kind of behaviour, it makes sense that there will be a far higher rate of success in preventing and fighting woman abuse.

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By AP (registered) | Posted October 30, 2014 at 08:25:49 in reply to Comment 105731

Agreed. Catcalls to assault, it's all on a continuum based on the notion that a woman's body belongs more to me (as a man) than to her. A desire attached to a sense of entitlement that results in a not-so-subtle wave of harassment and violence. And somehow all twisted around to be 'she asked for it' via her ______ (clothes, what she said, didn't say, drank, etc.). Thanks, Doreen, for bringing these issues into our conversations here on RTH.

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By Just wondering (anonymous) | Posted October 30, 2014 at 08:56:35

I wonder if the time will ever come when we have a "Men abuse awareness day"? I won't say a month, that would mean treating men and women as equals. Fat chance of that :(

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By Fake Name (anonymous) | Posted October 30, 2014 at 09:39:55 in reply to Comment 105757

When men abuse is a large enough problem that it needs a month. Obviously it happens and it's terrible for men who go through it, but the scale of the problem is different. Same reason we have fundraisers for common cancers and not obscure ones.

I mean obviously the organizers of this clumsily-termed "Woman Abuse Awareness" thing could have easily run a more inclusive "domestic violence awareness" thing, but is it really that big of a deal if they don't? Besides, November already wears a Men's Issues hat for a common and serious problem - prostate cancer, via the Movember thing.

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By end patriarchy (anonymous) | Posted October 31, 2014 at 12:31:08 in reply to Comment 105759

What would be "treating men and women as equals" would be to end the current regime of patriarcho-capitalism, and all its expressions of gender inequality, including but not limited to gendered violence. Great article, Doreen. It is a good time to draw pointed attention to this issue here in Hamilton--just in the last few weeks, there have been high-profile news stories about women being abused or killed by professional athlete partners, Hollaback's a woman walking in New York to highlight harassment now receiving death threats, Doug Ford calling a woman reporter a "little bitch," Anita Sarkeesian receiving even more death threats in GamerGate, Jian Ghomeshi's apparent abuse of at least 9 women. These are high-profile cases, but abuse happens every day in our own communities. Time to get real.

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By Just wondering (anonymous) | Posted October 30, 2014 at 10:14:18

I guess men have a quota of just one problem worthy of consideration at any one time. They need to just "man up" and keep taking those beatings right?

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By z jones (registered) | Posted October 30, 2014 at 10:33:00 in reply to Comment 105760

You know who's trying to raise awareness of male victims of abuse? Give you a hint, it's not MRA fake outrage trolls. It's the people trying to raise awareness of female victims of abuse. Now piss off and stop trying to hijack a real crisis to inflate your pathetic ego.

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