If you know somebody in need…
Knowing somebody who is or has been a victim of domestic or sexual violence can often leave neighbours, friends, and family members feeling helpless, confused, or angry. Sometimes the thing that we want to do the most – help – is the last thing that we know how to do.
Neighbours, Friends and Families is a provincial public education campaign to raise awareness of the signs of woman abuse so that those close to an at-risk woman or an abusive man can help. Campaign organizers have created the following pamphlets to help you help somebody that you are concerned about:
- How You Can Identify and Help Women At Risk of Abuse
- How to Talk to Men Who Are Abusive
- Safety Planning for Women Who Are Abused1
In general, keep in mind these tips for helping victims of sexual assault:
- Listen to and believe her – so many victims do not report sexual assault because they fear that they will not be believed or understood
- Share with her that it was not her fault – sexual assault is never the victim’s fault
- Try to make her feel safe (offer a safe place for her to stay and make yourself available for comfort and support)
- Offer to drive her to your local hospital for immediate medical care
- Encourage other action like calling a crisis hotline or calling the police – but make sure to respect her decision should she choose not to file charges
- Support her in making her own decisions
Making a Difference on a Larger Scale
Remember that cases of domestic and sexual violence are not isolated incidents, nor are they restricted to certain families behind closed doors.
Domestic and sexual violence are ultimately about power and control – who has it and who believes that he is entitled to it.
So to truly end domestic and sexual violence, we need to dig deeper and challenge the social norms that work to empower – and disempower – select groups and individuals.
Keep these ideas close to heart as you work to make a difference in your community:
- Challenge gender roles that still, to this day, cast men as tough guys and women as passive and weak – both stereotypes hurt the potential of men and women
- In the same way, don’t hesitate to question sexist jokes, especially those about abuse and assault
- Model healthy, respectful, and equal relationships for your children and younger community members
- Raise your children and teach our youth to respect themselves and others
- Ensure that your workplace or school has (and promotes) policies against sexual harassment
- Take part in initiatives like the White Ribbon Campaign to promote awareness about these issues
- Volunteer with local agencies that are working to make a difference2
Hoping to Become a Volunteer?
One of the best ways to model your commitment to ending domestic and sexual violence is to volunteer for a local charity or agency that shares your commitment. The following members of the Lanark County Domestic & Sexual Violence Advisory Committee invite hopeful volunteers to contact them:
Victim Services – Lanark County
Volunteers in the Victim Crisis Assistance and Referral Service Program (VCARS) participate in an in-depth training program so that they are prepared to support victims in a wide range of occurences and crises (for instance, a car accident, fire, domestic violence incident etc.). VCARS volunteers can potentially be asked to attend any incident to which police are called.
Lanark County Interval House
LCIH relies on its committed volunteers to support women and children in the shelter, operate the As Good As New store, organize and support fundraisers, and promote awareness about violence against women and their children in the community.