November is both Family Violence Prevention Month and Domestic Violence Awareness Month across Canada, and two Vernon organizations are urging locals to take action.
Turning Points Collaborative Society and Archway Society for Domestic Peace have teamed up to create an awareness campaign around these two distinct forms of violence.
The non-profit groups have designed graphics to be shared on social media. The graphics detail the grim reality of domestic and family violence, while encouraging people not to look the other way.
Domestic violence occurs when people use abusive behaviour to control or hurt their partners. Sometimes violence begins early on in a relationship and other times it takes months or even years to appear, according to Turning Points.
Family violence comes in many different forms of physical and emotional abuse, including child abuse, intimate partner abuse, elder abuse, forced marriage or violence based on so-called honour.
Both are issues that have intensified since the emergence of COVID-19, according to the United Nations, which refers to violence against women and girls as the “the shadow pandemic.”
Domestic or family violence often goes unseen, but can have serious, long-term or fatal consequences.
“Preventing family violence does prevent homicides, crime, homelessness, mental health and substance use disorders,” said Randene Wejr, Turning Points’ executive director.
“Not only are these issues interconnected, but they also are intergenerational and if we don’t prevent family violence we perpetuate it and condone it in our silence. Family violence is a community issue and we have a community responsibility to end it.”
The campaign coincides with International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, which involves 16 days of activism against gender-based violence beginning Nov. 25.
“We should all agree that domestic violence is a reality. And, the reality behind the statistics is horrifying. These numbers include someone we know: a friend, family member, or co-worker,” said Archway co-executive director Micki Materi. “And while we are looking to the broader community to help raise awareness this year, raising awareness is a first step, taking action is the next.”
The groups are urging North Okanagan residents to get involved in four steps:
- Take notice: don’t ignore it
- Understand: listen without criticism or judgment
- Take action: know who to call and be prepared to help
- Be part of the awareness campaign: share the awareness posts on your social media.
Stories and support can be shared on social media using the hashtags #bemyvoice, #makethecall, #courageovercomfort, #listen, #believe and #act.
There are local, provincial and national resources available to people experiencing family and domestic violence. Locally, Archway Society operates a 24-Hour Crisis and Information Line. For women experiencing violence or for anyone who might have questions or concerns regarding domestic violence and abuse, call 250-542-1122 or text 250-540-0656.