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OPINION: Violence against women is a men’s issue

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April 17, 2016 - 9:55 AM

Editor's note: April 17 to April 23, 2016 is Prevention of Violence Against Women Week. As part of its efforts to focus attention on the ongoing issue of intimate partner violence, and galvanize the community to take action to help prevent it, the Kelowna Women’s Shelter submitted this article.


When it comes to violence against women, too often the most-asked question is “Why doesn’t she leave?” when we should be asking “Why does he hurt her?”

To suggest it is a woman’s fault or responsibility when the man who has committed to cherish and respect her chooses instead to strike, manipulate, control, or otherwise abuse her is wrong, and indicates a serious lack of education about a complex and nuanced issue.

There are a host of reasons women stay in abusive relationships. One that people rarely consider is love — the victim loves her partner and has made a commitment to work at keeping the relationship together.

One of the most powerful emotions that comes into play in a woman’s decision to stay with her abuser is fear. Fear of having no place else to go or live. Fear she will not be able to get a job and support herself and her children. Fear that if she leaves, her abuser will follow through on threats to hurt her pets, her children and other family members, and her. Fear that nobody will believe her story. Fear of how friends and family will react. Fear she will never be good enough to be loved by someone else.

But whatever a woman’s reasons for not leaving an abusive partner, what matters more is the role men can, and should play, in putting an end to male violence against women.

We are fortunate to have countless good men in our community. Men who sponsor and participate in events that raise money for Kelowna Women’s Shelter. Men who volunteer their time, energy and expertise to fix a fence, paint a wall or do other odd jobs around the Shelter. Men who volunteer at our Thrift Store. They are realtors, bankers, accountants, labourers, and entrepreneurs. They are young and they are old. Whether through their business, their service club or on their own time, many good men choose to do their part to end intimate partner violence by supporting the Shelter in a variety of ways.

They, and others, also do their part by standing up against the societal and cultural norms that continue to support a world that objectifies and diminishes women, both of which contribute to a culture of abuse. These men refuse to support the sex industry, they step up and speak out when other men speak disrespectfully of women, and they set an example for other men, and boys, in their circle.

These men, and men like them everywhere, deserve to be celebrated. Yet sadly, they represent the tiniest drop in a very large bucket. There are still too many men out there who don’t get it. And there is still much work to be done to create a world where people treat each other with respect, and there is truly zero tolerance for intimate partner violence and the attitudes which allow it to flourish.

This Prevention of Violence Against Women Week we urge all men to show their respect and admiration for humanity by taking a stand against intimate partner violence.

How will you be part of the solution?

Karen Mason
Executive Director
Kelowna Women’s Shelter

— The Kelowna Women’s Shelter is a non-profit organization that offers emergency transitional housing, counseling, support and education to women and their children who have experienced intimate partner violence. For more information, or to make a donation, visit or call 250-763-1040.

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