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New study by Interval House shows 37% of Ontarians blame victims for not leaving abuse

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Toronto, ON – March 1, 2016 – The high-profile celebrity abuse cases in 2015 have resulted in a swell of public conversation about the issue of violence against women. While the public has been engaged with the issue, a recent study by Interval House reveals that we still have a long way to go toward changing attitudes about domestic violence.

A new study commissioned by Interval House, Canada’s first shelter for abused women, shows that 37% of Ontarians believe that a person is responsible for the consequences if they choose to stay in a violent relationship. This belief is higher among men (46%) than women.

Victim-blaming is one of the challenges that women face when leaving abusive relationships. “There are many reasons that a woman might choose to stay with her abuser, or to keep in touch with him,” says Arlene McCalla, Executive Co-Director at Interval House. “Often women don’t leave because they fear they will be blamed, not believed, or they have internalized that it is somehow their fault. Ultimately the person responsible for the abuse is the abuser.”

The recent poll, hosted on the Angus Reid Forum, also revealed that that 66% of Ontarians believe that women who say they were abused can be lying or exaggerating. “This statistic is especially troubling,” says McCalla.  “It can be terrifying for a woman to come forward, and our first job as supporters is to believe what she is saying, and to understand that leaving an abuser is a difficult decision and a potentially dangerous action.”

As International Women’s Day approaches, it’s time for change. This week Interval House launched the #NotHerFault social media campaign, encouraging everyone to use the #NotHerFault hashtag while sharing these survey results and starting a conversation about domestic violence. For every share, retweet and mention, Wyse Meter Solutions Inc. will donate $5 (up to $2500). Other actions you can take to support women who experience abuse can be found at www.intervalhouse.ca/notherfault.

Disclaimer for opinion polls:

*Methodology: From February 10th to February 12th, 2016 an online survey was conducted among 868 randomly selected adult Ontario residents who are Angus Reid Forum panelists. The margin of error—which measures sampling variability—is +/- 3.3%, 19 times out of 20. The results have been statistically weighted according to the most current education, age, gender and region Census data to ensure a sample representative of the entire adult population of Ontario. Discrepancies in or between totals are due to rounding.

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About Interval House

As the first centre for abused women and children in Canada, Interval House is a leader in the campaign for women’s empowerment, providing innovative, specialized services that help abused women and their children transform their lives and break the cycle of violence. Interval House’s holistic approach provides a continuum of services from crisis intervention to re-integration into the workforce and community, giving women and children the chance to rebuild their lives. For more information please visit www.intervalhouse.ca

For more information and to schedule an interview:

Ashleigh Saith
asaith@intervalhouse.ca

1 in 6 Canadians reveal their Mother was a Victim of Domestic Abuse

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A new study by Interval House shines a spotlight on violence against mothers.

Toronto, ON – May 6, 2015 – This Mother’s Day we will celebrate the sacrifices made by the mothers in our lives. Yet for some women those sacrifices are unthinkable. A new study commissioned by Interval House, Canada’s first shelter for abused women, shows that many of us have a mother or know a mother who has been abused. The recent poll, hosted on the Angus Reid Forum, revealed that 1 in 6 (16%) Canadians shared that their mother has been a victim of domestic abuse. The study also showed that 36% of Canadians personally know a mother who has experienced domestic violence.

“Many women who experience violence are mothers. And when mothers are abused their children are also significantly impacted,” says Renee Weekes, Chair of the Board of Directors at Interval House. “Children who witness their mother’s abuse can experience learning challenges, behavioural and emotional issues and these long-term effects can extend into adulthood. We know that children who are exposed to violence can be more likely to grow up to become victims or abusers.”

The Interval House study also showed the majority of Canadians (94%) do not believe that a woman should stay in an abusive relationship for the sake of the children. “It’s good to hear that Canadian’s support mothers leaving an abusive relationship. There are services like Interval House across the country to help women safely rebuild her life after abuse,” says Weeks, “However, it’s also important to note that some mothers fear leaving because their abusive partner has threatened she’ll lose custody of her children, because she doesn’t have the financial means to support her family or because her partner threatens to kill her or the children if she ends the relationship.”

We need to keep letting mothers – and all women – know that they are not alone, they are not to blame for domestic abuse, and that there are community organizations like Interval House to support them. As Mother’s Day approaches, you can help brighten the day of a mother living at Interval House by making a donation in honour of your mother or another woman in your life: www.intervalhouse.ca/MothersDay

*Survey Methodology: From April 20th to April 21st, 2015 an online survey was conducted among 1007 randomly selected adults in Canada who are Angus Reid Forum panelists. The margin of error—which measures sampling variability—is +/- 3.1%, 19 times out of 20. The results have been statistically weighted according to education, age, gender and income. Census data to ensure a sample representative of the entire adult population of Canada. Discrepancies in or between totals are due to rounding.

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About Interval House
As the first centre for abused women and children in Canada, Interval House is a leader in the campaign for women’s empowerment, providing innovative, specialized services that help abused women and their children transform their lives and break the cycle of violence. Interval House’s holistic approach provides a continuum of services from crisis intervention to re-integration into the workforce and community, giving women and children the chance to rebuild their lives. For more information please visit www.intervalhouse.ca

To schedule an interview contact Ashleigh Saithasaith@intervalhouse.ca, 416.924.1411 x231

Are Ontarians Apathetic to Domestic Violence?

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NEW STUDY BY INTERVAL HOUSE SHOWS 24% BLAME THE VICTIM AND ONLY 58% WOULD INTERVENE IF ABUSE DISCLOSED.

Toronto, ON – March 4, 2015 – The highly publicized celebrity abuse cases in late 2014 resulted in an unprecedented public interest in the dialogue about ending violence against women and many believed it was a tipping point in changing attitudes. However, the spotlight has shifted and a new study commissioned by Interval House, Canada’s first shelter for abused women, shows that we still have a very long way to go.

The recent poll, hosted on the Angus Reid Forum, revealed that nearly a quarter (24%) of Ontarians believe that it is possible for someone to bring abuse upon themselves. This belief is higher among men (34.3%) than among women (14.1%). Victim-blaming accounts for why many women have trouble leaving an abusive relationship because they fear they will be blamed, not believed or have internalized that it is somehow their fault. “Abuse is always the responsibility of the abuser” says Renee Weekes, Chair of the Board of Directors at Interval House. “There is no action or choice by a victim that can justify abuse. Women who experience violence need to know that abuse is never their fault and that there are resources in the community to support them.”

The Interval House study also showed that only 58.3% of Ontarians would consider intervening in an abusive situation if someone told them that their spouse or partner was abusive. Domestic violence is still largely kept behind closed doors and many people may still think that what happens in a relationship is not their business. “It’s shocking for us to see that only 58.3% of our neighbours would consider helping if someone in their life came forward and disclosed abuse,” says Weekes, “Our community must begin to move to an attitude of zero tolerance for violence and empathy for victims if we ever want to see an end to the private hell experienced by so many women.”

Other findings in the study revealed:

  • Only 55.8% would intervene in an abusive situation if they saw bruises or injures and suspected the spouse was the cause but 75.8% would intervene if they personally witnessed abuse.
  • 17.1% of Ontarians don’t believe it’s ever their place to interfere if they suspect abusive behaviour is going on.
  • A third (33.5%) of Ontarians would not know what to do if they suspected abuse.

As International Women’s Day approaches, it’s time for change and for the conversation to continue so we can all put an end to violence against women. Just like we’ve collectively altered public and private attitudes about smoking, seat belt wearing and drunk driving, we can raise our voices to change attitudes about the acceptability and responsibility of abuse. This week Interval House launched the #StopVAW social media campaign encouraging everyone to use the #StopVAW hashtag while posting a selfie with a stop sign to reignite the conversation and raise awareness. Other actions you can take to #StopVAW can be found at www.intervalhouse.ca/stopvaw*Methodology: From February 17th to February 18th an online survey was conducted among 805 randomly selected adults in Ontario who are Angus Reid Forum panelists. The margin of error—which measures sampling variability—is +/- 3.1%, 19 times out of 20. The results have been statistically weighted according to education, age, gender and income. Census data to ensure a sample representative of the entire adult population of Ontario. Discrepancies in or between totals are due to rounding.

-30-About Interval House 
As the first centre for abused women and children in Canada, Interval House is a leader in the campaign for women’s empowerment, providing innovative, specialized services that help abused women and their children transform their lives and break the cycle of violence. Interval House’s holistic approach provides a continuum of services from crisis intervention to re-integration into the workforce and community, giving women and children the chance to rebuild their lives. For more information please visit www.intervalhouse.ca

For more information and to schedule an interview:

Ashleigh Saith
asaith@intervalhouse.ca
416.924.1411 x231

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