A workshop hosted by the Cariboo Friendship Society (CFS) recently shared ways business owners can handle disclosure and assist someone who is experiencing domestic violence.
Held at The Hearth Restaurant on Wednesday, April 20, the evening event included presentations from CFS, Axis Family Resources, Canadian Mental Health Association, Women’s Contact Society and Northern Shuswap Tribal Council Aboriginal Victim Services.
“Any organization can become a safe place,” said Tammy Garreau, social programs supervisor at CFS as she welcomed everyone. She later handed out red dress stickers with a design created by artist Satsi Naziel that people can put in their windows.
Garreau said CFS offered the awareness training in 2019, but not since due to COVID.
Lori Winters, PEACE program co-ordinator which stands for Prevention Education Advocacy Counselling and Empowerment, shared statistics for the Chiwid Transition House, operated by CFS in Williams Lake.
Between April 2021 and March 31, 2022, the facility housed 84 women and 32 children.
“In a year we had 784 bed stays for women and 351 bed stays for children,” she said, adding due to COVID-19 protocols the beds were at half-capacity.
Additionally 8,109 meals were provided to women and children and crisis information and referrals were done by phone 349 times.
Presenting global statistics, Winters said 81,000 women and girls were killed in 2020 and around 47,000 of them died at the hands of an intimate partner or family member, which equals a woman or girl being killed every 11 minutes in their home.
During COVID-19, calls to help lines increased five-fold in some countries, while other countries have reported decreases in the number of calls although that could be due to limited access to services.
Each presenter also had a table with pamphlets and contact information.
Sunnie Dickinson moved from Victoria and is working as a victim services worker for Canadian Mental Health Association.
Sharing a chart that outlines a typical cycle of abuse, she said it starts with tension building, moves to an incident, then on to reconciliation followed by a period of calm.
She listed different types of abuse such as emotional and psychological, physical abuse, sexual abuse, financial abuse, property abuse and cultural or spiritual abuse.
Through a presentation titled Red Flags, Alana Sand, stopping the violence worker with Axis Family Resources, outlined some of the things people should be aware of.
Guilt trips, being secretive, wanting to control social media passwords, name calling or trying to make another person feel stupid are not signs of a healthy relationship, she said.
Justeen Sellars with Aboriginal Victim Services at the Northern Shuswap Tribal Council, covered the topic of consent and a video entitled Tea and Consent.
“Consent is an agreement between two people to engage in an activity: it occurs when you ask, or give, permission to do something.”
Lindalee Anthony, a women’s counsellor and legal advocate with the Women’s Contact Society listed many factors that make disclosure difficult.
They range from embarrassment to thinking you won’t be believed or fearing for the safety of children and families.
It is common for survivors to have a fight, flight or freeze response and be unclear about details.
“Tell the survivor that you are glad that they are telling you and let them guide the conversation,” she suggested.
Important also is finding out who their supports are, encouraging them to get medical assistance if needed and help connect them to resources.
“If they choose to go back, encourage them or help them to make a safety plan.”