Public discourse about violence and abuse is becoming mainstream, creating new possibilities for awareness and working for change. Subjects that were previously ‘off limits’ or too ‘academic’ or ‘activist’ are now in the public domain in ways that are inviting individuals to share their personal experiences and participate actively in dialogue. The notion of “engaging men and boys” to help end violence is also no longer controversial. The Me Too and Time’s Up campaigns are receiving global attention. Everywhere you turn there are opportunities for communities and groups to Take A Stand Against Family Violence and Abuse.

The point of these conversations and the hope behind them is that they begin to break down barriers, shatter myths, and challenge stigmas to create more community safety and to prevent violence.

As more people come forward and share their experiences, community members and informal supporters, i.e. neighbours, friends, family, and co-workers are looking for more information on how to help and provide effective responses to victims and perpetrators. More people want to talk about family violence and abuse, and learn more.

In March 2018, the Calgary Women’s Emergency Shelter launched the Take A Stand initiative which supports informal supporters to provide effective and helpful social support. This initiative provides practical, hands on training to supporters and community members about how to respond to people impacted by family violence and abuse. We all have a role to play and be part of the solution.

The Take A Stand Initiative helps community members to RECOGNIZE the signs of abuse. What is a healthy relationship? What is not? How can you determine the difference? The project also helps individuals learn how to effectively RESPOND to someone who discloses that they may be experiencing abuse. Or to someone who is being abusive. It also supports participants in learning how and where to REFER people to access resources.

People are most likely to reach out to their friends and family first, and effective, compassionate support can truly make a difference. A positive response when reaching out can help someone pursue resources and make a significant impact on their healing journey than if they are met with judgement or disbelief when they come forward.

Effective support goes a long way to helping people deal with the impact of family violence and abuse. This is an important means of violence prevention of which we can all be a part.

Family violence and abuse continues to be a serious issue in our city. The need and demand for our services remains steady and is evolving. We continue to collaborate with partner agencies and other service providers to coordinate efforts. We also continue to strive to improve our services and move forward to change the conversation about family violence and abuse.

We cannot do the work we do without the support of the community. Together, we can all Take A Stand and support individuals and families striving to live safer, healthier lives free of violence and abuse.

We are grateful to the board members, staff, volunteers, funders, donors, supporters and sponsors for their ongoing commitment to our mission. The challenging work of our agency is made possible because of you.

Kim Ruse
Executive Director
Calgary Women’s Emergency Shelter

Shelly Norris
Calgary Women’s Emergency Shelter

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