• Myrna Driedger

Men need to step up on domestic violence

Article published in The Metro

How was your Christmas? Everything you hoped for? Friends, family get togethers, food, gifts, decorations, smells of Christmas? Do we have unreasonable expectations to provide the idyllic experience over the holidays? Along with all these expectations to provide the perfect holiday experience for our families, comes the stress and anxiety to fulfill these expectations.

For some people, the festive season is feared. In abusive relationships many victims know that with finances being stretched, or free flowing alcohol, it is also likely to be a volatile time. It’s long been held that domestic violence increases over the holiday season.

There is a cycle of abuse with domestic violence. The buildup beginning this cycle is stress, be it a job, money, or bills to pay. The abuser chooses to act out toward the spouse either verbally with name calling or demeaning behavior. Then as the tension builds, the victim tries to calm the abuser and anticipate every need they have to keep things on an even keel. But this is when the tension builds up even more and leads to severe verbal abuse, violent physical or sexual assaults.

We have many organizations dedicated to helping victims of domestic abuse. One of these groups is RESOLVE (Research and Education for Solutions to Violence and Abuse). I was pleased recently to bring greetings at an event related to Domestic Violence Prevention put on by RESOLVE. Dr. Jane Ursel, currently the Acting Director of RESOLVE, has been involved in research and other activities to find ways to reduce the risks of domestic violence.

One of the mistakes that I believe we have made over the years, despite being well intentioned, is that we have made this a women’s issue. This has let men off the hook. I believe that it is time to change the channel. I am very pleased with the initiative that the Winnipeg Blue Bombers have taken on domestic violence. Featuring players such as Matt Nichols, Jamaal Westerman, Jake Thomas, Matt Bucknor, Ian Wild and Coach Buck Pierce, they have been running ads on TV talking about some of the unacceptable behaviours that are considered abusive. Watch the Winnipeg Blue Bombers videos on the Manitoba government website at Manitoba.ca/stoptheviolence

It would be wonderful if this were the beginning of actions by men to own this problem. If we truly want to stop the cycle of abuse, we need more men taking this on.

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