Category: Special Events

Survivor’s Hope is Supporting Local Food Banks and Tackling Period Poverty

We are partnering with community food banks to support the communities they serve in a new way during this time of economic slowdown.

“We recognize that the COVID-19 lockdown has put a lot of people out of work and families will be relying on food banks more than before” says Candice Perry, Reaching Out Coordinator for Survivor’s Hope. “We want to support our communities by helping to meet some immediate and basic needs.”

Survivor’s Hope will be sharing menstrual products with numerous local food banks and community resources thanks to the generosity of a social enterprise in BC called joni, which matches every purchase with a donation. Joni produces menstrual pads that are unbleached and biodegradable, making them a choice that is good for bodies and for the earth.

“Menstrual products can be expensive and are not always available at food banks,” says Stephanie Klassen, Executive Director of Survivors Hope. “These products are a necessity that is often overlooked and without them, the folks who menstruate miss out. We want to support the full participation of women and girls in society by making sure this need is met.”

Klassen said when she first contacted joni, the company was excited. “We asked about purchasing a few hundred boxes and they offered to match our purchase with donations and then some on top of that! We now have 1320 boxes of pads to share!”

Donations will be distributed to community food banks across north eastern Manitoba over the coming weeks. Information flyers about the increased risk of intimate violence during COVD-19 and the support available through Survivors Hope and Nova House, the shelter for survivors of intimate partner violence in Selkirk, will also be included. Nova House has launched a text line where a domestic violence counsellor can be reached 24/7 by texting 204-805-6682.

“There has been a worldwide increase in reports of violence at home. There is a lot of concern about isolation and violence in the home escalating as everyone is asked to stay at home,” said Klassen. “If there is an abusive person in the home, home is not always the safest place. We want to remind folks that there are local resources that are ready to help 24/7.”

Elder Abuse Awareness Day: Abuse Disclosures

On June 15, 2016, World Elder Abuse Awareness Day (WEAAD) celebrates its 10th anniversary.  Started in 2006 by the International Network for the Prevention of Elder Abuse, the day is set aside to bring global awareness about the mistreatment of older persons.

Elder abuse, according to Manitoba’s chapter of WEAAD, is defined as “any act or lack of action by someone in a position of trust that harms the health or well-being of an older person.” Forms of abuse can include, but are not limited to, psychological, financial and sexual violence, as well as neglect.

In Manitoba it is estimated that between 4-10% of people over the age of 60 are victims of elder abuse.  It is also estimated that only 1-in-5 older adults disclose their experience of abuse to others, so the rates of abuse may actually be much higher.

The mistreatment of an older adult has severe consequences.  It can lead to mental health concerns, social isolation, and even premature death. Preventing elder abuse and responding to it in a timely and appropriate manner can save lives.

Being able to spot warning signs that an older adult is being abused can play an important role in helping someone seek help.  Signs that someone is being abused include:

  • Anxiety and fear
  • Social Isolation
  • Depression
  • Confiding in you about the abuse

Another layer of complexity is that for some older adults there may be a previous history of abuse.  Someone who has managed to cope in their adulthood with a traumatic past may find that it is harder to cope as an older person.  The process of aging itself, with the loss of independence and the onset of health complications, can have a significant impact on someone with a history of trauma.  Signs that someone is being affected something traumatic from their past include the same warning signs that someone is being abused: heightened anxiety or fear, depression, social isolation, and confiding in trusted ones about past abuse.

If an older adult discloses to you about past or current abuse, your response does not actually change. Talking about abuse, past or present, can be a very difficult and vulnerable process.  If someone tells you about abuse they have suffered, one of the most important things to do is to listen and believe them.

Another important action is to support the person.  Support can look like many things, but it is always good to be informed about what resources are available to a victim of violence.  If you suspect someone is in imminent need of safety, call 9-1-1.  If you are an older person who has experienced abuse, or a concerned person seeking more information, Manitoba has a Seniors Abuse Support Line that you can contact 24/7 at 1-888-896-7183.  For more information on World Elder Abuse Awareness Day you can visit their webpage, http://www.weaadmanitoba.ca/

Survivor’s Hope Crisis Centre provides crisis intervention, support, and information to survivors and secondary victims of sexualized violence in north-eastern Manitoba. They run workshops in schools throughout the region that aim to prepare youth for strong, healthy, and respectful relationships. They also operate a drop-in support service on Monday afternoons in Powerview-Pine Falls. For more information, visit www.survivors-hope.ca or call 204-753-5353.

Sexual Violence Myths Getting Good Press?

April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month and there are two recent news stories that raise some very important points about sexual violence.

It is not often that we hear satisfying stories of closure and justice in regards to sexual violence. These types of crimes are fraught with influence from cultural myths and misunderstandings about what is happening when sexual violence occurs.

We have heard a Manitoba judge say that sexual assault is actually just a “clumsy Don Juan” trying to get lucky and accidentally assaulting someone. It is a myth that sexual assault is rooted in the desire for sex.

We have watched the Ghomeshi trial in which every action the survivors took after the assaults was given far more weight than the actual assaults. It is a myth that all sexual assault survivors will act in the same manner if they were really sexually assaulted.

Two recent stories have highlighted more myths about sexual violence.

There is currently a lawsuit against the Mennonite Brethren Church of Manitoba that alleges the church created an atmosphere that made it easy for a pastor to lure, groom, and sexually assault a child in his congregation.

This lawsuit highlights myths about sexual violence by shattering the usual myths. This lawsuit is trying to get to the bottom of why sexual violence happens and the conditions that promote silencing victims. In a word – power.

It is not often that we see legal action taken against the structures that promote inequality or injustice, but this lawsuit is attempting to do just that. It’s not that churches promote inequality and injustice, but when people, particularly children, are told that the church leader is “chosen by God,” that leader has a lot of power and authority which may be easily abused. More safeguards are required in these settings to hold leaders accountable and encourage anyone who may be a victim to trust their own experience and feel safe to speak up.

There are many groups, inside and outside faith communities, working on and discussing these problems. Especially relevant to the faith community involved in this lawsuit is the organization Our Stories Untold which is working to end the silence around sexual violence in churches.

Another story that has recently highlighted myths by breaking them came out of a denied conviction appeal. A teacher was convicted in 2013 of sexually assaulting a female student by repeatedly groping her at school. He tried to appeal his sentence on the grounds that the victim had not come forward soon enough; she had not reported the first incident on the first day it took place.

The Court responded in a refreshingly informed way by saying that the convict’s argument was not evidence that the assaults never took place. The Court acknowledged that the power the teacher had over the student played a significant role in the assaults and in the student’s response, which likely included some form of Sexual Assault Trauma.

At its core, sexual violence is about power, not sex. Sexual contact is simply the weapon of choice. Sexual violence comes from a disregard for consent which essentially entails dehumanizing someone, using them as an object so the perpetrator feels powerful and gets what they want.

Too often we hear myths about sexual violence mistaken for truth. Sexual Assault Awareness Month is a time to become better informed, debunk myths, and create safer spaces for everyone in our communities.

For more information on a variety of topics related to sexual violence, visit the Links page of our website.