By Lieran Docherty, Program Manager
In 2017, Link Coalition Toronto (a registered non-profit) was created to raise awareness—through outreach and education—of the connection between four types of family violence. Domestic violence often co-occurs with child abuse and elder abuse, yet there is an additional form of co-occurring violence that is frequently forgotten: animal abuse. As a means of exerting power and control, abusers will threaten and/or physically harm/kill pets in an effort to punish or instill fear in their adult and child victims. When children see and hear animal abuse within their home, they put themselves in harm’s way by trying to protect their pets.
To support both survivors and domestic violence shelters, Link Coalition Toronto launched the SafePet Program in December of 2017. This program provides foster homes for the pets of survivors of domestic violence, while the survivors stay at a GTA DV shelter. They are currently partnered with Interval House and Ernestine’s Women's Shelter, and plan to expand their SafePet support to additional shelters once they have more foster homes.
Click here to learn more about Link Coalition Toronto. Please contact them directly if you are interested in having them speak about the SafePet Program, or about the “link” among domestic violence, elder abuse, child abuse, and animal abuse, at a staff meeting or professional development seminar.
By Bianca Caputo, WomanACT Social Media Team
Attention Torontonians! Stella's Place, in partnership with George Brown College and the Toronto District School Board, has introduced us to a new peer support app, BeanBagChat!
BeanBagChat is a FREE device application available to computer, Apple, or Android users. This app is an online tool that provides connection, resources, and peer support for young adults aged 16-29. In this ever-changing technological world, tools such as BeanBagChat allow easier access for those in need of support through its online portal.
Be sure to visit BeanBagChat's website to view more information on this product and download it now, free, on the App Store or Google Play!
It is important to remember that BeanBagChat does not provide crisis support. Please call the Gerstein Centre 416-929-5200 or the Toronto Distress Centre 416-408-HELP (4357).if you are in a crisis. If your issue is an emergency, please contact 911.
By Bushra Zafar, Placement Student at WomanACT
As part of my placement, I have the opportunity to attend Shelter and Support Services Committee meetings. At one of the meetings, a number of systemic issues were raised. The first issue was VAW shelters not being able to accommodate pets, leading to women staying in their abusive relationships out of fear for the lives of their furry family members. This is a classic example of one of the many reasons women choose to stay with their abusive partners.
Another issue raised was regarding women who need to find housing but are caught in a loop between landlords and Ontario Works. Ontario Works will not release the rent amount until they see proof of stable housing and landlords will not move forward until they see proof of income. This is yet another systemic issue that adds to the oppression women face in addition to the trauma of the abuse. The intersectionality and multiplicity of oppression is so ingrained in the system that it seems like a deep pit. More than the personal dilemma of whether to leave an abusive partner or not, it’s the system that creates ongoing barriers for women and does not leave them with many options. There needs to be a holistic and collaborative approach at a systemic level to address this issue.
There is a dire need for more VAW shelters as the current ones are overflowing and women are sometimes placed in homeless shelters. This is an even more traumatizing experience for them. All these aspects have to be taken into account when addressing the issue of violence against women. There is a need for ongoing advocacy in order to get funding for projects. These systemic issues create a barrier for agencies and front line workers to help their clients in the best way. They are torn between the desire to help their client and being held back by the systems, policies and laws.
This is an ongoing fight for women’s rights that has been going on for years and still continues. Attending these meetings and getting an awareness about the issues has been an eye-opening experience for me and it makes my goal to work with and empower survivors of abuse, stronger every day.
Help eliminate Violence against Women by making a donation to WomanACT today.
WomanACT's Executive Director, Harmy Mendoza, welcomed reporter Amanda Ferguson from City TV News today to talk about the new provision in Ontario that reduces the notice a person in an abusive relationship has to give a landlord from 60 to 28 days.
Harmy’s main message was that even though this is a great start, she would have liked to see a change that allows women to leave immediately. Some victims of violence do not have 28 days, as a matter of fact, risk to lethality increase greatly when women are about to leave. In Texas, for example, Section 92.016 of the Texas Property Code gives victims of violence the right to “vacate and avoid liability”. This means a victim of domestic violence may break the lease without penalty and in some cases without notice.”
Watch for the interview on City at 6:30 pm tonight.
By Bianca Caputo, Social Media Placement Student at WomanACT
WomanACT ‘s End Violence against Women Week in Toronto is less than a month away and we are glad to have Tim Kelly, Lisa Heslop, and Kate Wiggins introduce their The Domestic Violence Victim Safety Model. They are our panel presenters on Monday March 7th for the CAS VAW Advisory Committee, Toronto Region's annual Forum and on Tuesday March 8th for the Supporting Survivors by Supporting Staff training conference.
In the fall of 2009, the London Police Service, Changing Ways, Women’s Community House, John Howard Society, the Centre for Research and Education on Violence Against Women & Children and the University of Toronto entered into a partnership to explore alternate ways to engage moderate-to high-risk men charged with a domestic violence related offence. The partnership received victim justice funding from the Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services. This project was subsequently replicated in Woodstock, Sudbury, Ottawa and Strathroy, Ontario.
The project was based on the ‘Needs Risk Responsivity’ service model. Men were provided with focused support, aimed at the dynamic factors that contributed to risk of recidivism.
To be eligible for inclusion in the pilot project, the accused had to meet the following criteria:
Importantly, this project was not designed to provide any feedback to the court process and men were clearly informed at all recruitment contacts that participation in this project was voluntary and would not lead to any leniency in sentencing. In fact, the substantive offence was not discussed at any time during the intervention.
More about our Speakers
Tim Kelly is the Executive Director of Changing Ways, a program for men who abuse women located in London, ON, Canada. He has spoken nationally and internationally on issues related to men’s violence against women and children, including community collaborations, accountability and the collective role men play in ending violence. He has focused much of his efforts in organizing campaigns, and challenging men to take responsibility for men’s violence against women and children. Currently, his work with high risk domestic violence offenders has lead him to partner on a project in London Ontario developing a standardized dynamic risk strategy for monitoring changing risk posed by men who abuse their partners.
Lisa Heslop was the Supervisor of the Family Consultant/Victim Services Unit, a crisis intervention unit of the London Police Service where she has worked 28 years. Her research interests have included a multi-year study which defined the unintended consequences of deinstitutionalization of mental health services by measuring police involvement with persons with mental illness; a number of projects exploring the impact of victimization; human rights issues related to police record checks and vulnerable position screening. Lisa has been working in partnership with Changing Ways on a community model to respond to high risk men accused of a domestic violence offence. She is a member of the clinical panel for the Office for the Children’s Lawyer.
Kate Wiggins is the Executive Director of Women’s Community House. Women’s Community House provides safe places and services for abused women and their children. Kate has been with WCH for 14 years, shepherding the organization through continuous growth and change. Kate is a longstanding member of the London Coordinating Committee to End Woman Abuse, a collaborative association of agencies committed to ending woman abuse. Kate is also a member of a variety of other community and provincial committees and is on the board of OAITH (Ontario Association of Interval & Transition Houses) representing the southwest region.
Don’t miss out on the opportunity to hear these individuals speak at our End VAW conference – click here to register for the upcoming event!
Note: Registrations is by invitation only.
The CAS VAW Advisory Committee, Toronto Region's annual Forum: Creating Connections, invites staff from MCSS funded VAW agencies and Child Protection agencies in the GTA.
Supporting Survivors by Supporting Staff is free for staff from MCSS funded VAW agencies in the GTA.
By Gabrielle Provencher, Social Media Volunteer at WomanACT
Last year at our annual Supporting Survivors by Supporting Staff training conference, The Redwood Women’s Shelter panel presented their safety management and risk assessment toolkit to improve the interventions in supporting women and children. The Redwood, a 33-bed violence against women shelter located in Toronto is the only shelter in the country known to be using this specific model.
This toolkit was creating through an exhaustive literature review and aims to make a shift from the traditional ‘risk assessment’ and ‘safety planning’ approach to a Safety Assessment and Risk Management model. In this new model, the responsibility for the danger is more clearly placed on the perpetrator while emphasizing the strategies and protective actions available that may increasing her safety and reducing her risk of further abuse. This model aims at proactively prevent further harm and risk to women and their children.
To request a copy of the toolkit and to see a preview, please visit :
Paula Wells, Events & Social Media Coordinator @ WomanACT
If you were at the Supporting Survivors by Supporting Staff training conference in 2015, you may remember a panel presentation by The Redwood Women's Shelter on their Safety Assessment and Risk Management Model.
In January we shared their toolkit with you and we've just been informed that it is now available in French as well. You can access both version here: Download Now