If you or someone you know is being abused, call the Manitoba Association of Women’s Shelter’s confidential provincial toll-free crisis line at 1-877-977-0007.
November is #DomesticViolenceAwarenessMonth in Manitoba. Domestic violence is a form of gender-based violence as it disproporionately affects women, trans, Two-Spirit, and gender non-conforming people.
Women, trans, Two-Spirit, and gender non-conforming people are more likely to experience violence because of misogynist, transphobic, and homophobic beliefs that result in their bodies being devalued, sexualized, commodified, and exploited.
Gender-based violence is also rooted in patriarchal and colonial power imbalances that result in gender inequality, systemic oppression and marginalization of identities, and culture-related gender norms where men are socialized based on harmful ideas of masculinity founded in control and violence. While men can experience gender-based violence, it is almost exclusively committed by men against people of a different gender. For example, 80% of intimate partner-violence is perpetrated by men against women.
We know from our research for Connecting the Circle: A Gender-Based Strategy to End Homelessness in Winnipeg that Gender-based violence is also a common pathway to homelessness. The risk of homelessness due to violence increases for women, trans, Two-Spirit, and gender non-conforming people who are also living in poverty, Indigenous, living with a disability, and/or living in rural and remote areas.
Gender-based violence rates are increasing during the pandemic, as women trans, Two-Spirit, and gender non-conforming people were asked to remain at home, isolating them from many of the supports they were accessing.
West Central Women’s Resource Centre is working on innovative ways to support women who are experiencing violence. We have always done Gender-based violence work, but have not had dedicated program funds to do so until now.
Now our services and supports include:
- Our drop-in: A confidential, women-only space open six days a week where women can escape from their abusers and be referred to a gender-based violence shelter;
- HOMES: Housing and income supports to help women leave abusive homes;
- Restoring the Balance: A violence recovery program funded by the Province of Manitoba based in Indigenous traditions that promote healing. This also includes a men’s healing circle because the cycle of violence against women will not end without helping men heal.
- Healing Together: Crisis counselling for newcomer women who have experienced domestic, state, and gender-based violence. Funded by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada.
- Gender-Based Violence Case Coordinator: a staff member funded by the Province of Manitoba who is dedicated to working with women experiencing violence.
We take a participant-centred approach where there is no one-size-fits-all solution. Every woman who comes to us for support has her own story, her own goals, her own priorities. The work starts with listening and then working with the participant to develop a way forward that works for them.
Gender-based violence can and must end. We must work together to end gender-based violence by using an intersection gender-based analysis (IGBA) to address its root causes, creating 24-hour safe spaces for women and the 2SLGBTQ+ community, and implementing the Calls for Justice of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls (MMIWG).