Engaging Men as Allies

Violence Against Women: It’s a Men’s Issue

Violence against women is typically characterized as a ‘women’s issue’; however, since the vast majority of perpetrators of relationship and sexual violence against women are males, the problem is equally a ‘men’s issue’. We know that the vast majority of men do not use violence and care deeply about the wellbeing of their mothers, sisters, wives, daughters, partners and friends. Yet few men view violence against women as ‘their’ issue.

Statistics show that violence against women isn’t stopping. We have made many gains in terms of services and policy, and there is still a long ways to go on that front, but this epidemic will not change until men realize that it’s also their issue because it’s men who are committing these crimes. Women cannot change men, only men can choose to change themselves.

This initiative seeks to change that by educating bystanders, those who don’t commit violence and abuse but know it is happening around them, towards preventing violence against women and girls. This project will encourage an examination of the attitudes and behaviours that allow violence against women to happen in our society and encourage people to speak up about violence and become part of the solution.

It is widely recognized that physical, emotional and sexual violence are serious social problems in British Columbia and in Canada as they are elsewhere in the world. It is also widely recognized that physical and sexual violence are gender-based crimes, perpetrated primarily by men against women.

  • Women are more likely than men to be victims of spousal assault and much more likely than men to be the victims of severe domestic violence (Randall, 2003; Statistics Canada, 2005).
  • 7% or approximately 653,000 women were victims of domestic or sexual violence in the five years up to and including 2004 (Statistics Canada, 2004).
  • Women were more likely than men to suffer serious forms of abuse, more than twice as likely to be injured, and more than six times as likely to seek medical attention as a result of the abuse. (Statistics Canada, 2005).

Field signs in BC Place Stadium, Vancouver 2017

What is “Violence Against Women”?

Violence against women is a term used to refer to violent acts that are primarily committed against women. Similar to hate crimes, this type of violence targets specific groups, in this case, women.

The United Nations defines violence against women as any act of gender-based violence that results in, or is likely to result in, physical, sexual or mental harm or suffering to women, including threats of such acts, coercion or arbitrary deprivation of liberty, whether occurring in public or in private life.

There are many forms of violence against women, including sexual assault, physical assault, or emotional abuse by an intimate partner; physical or sexual abuse by family members or others; sexual harassment and abuse by authority figures (such as teachers, police officers, employers). Systematic sexual violence in conflict situations is another form of violence against women.

Please note: We use the term she/her when referring to the person being abused and he/him when referring to the abuser.  This is because by far the vast majority of sexual and intimate partner violence is perpetrated by men against women. We do wish to acknowledge that men can and have been victimized by women and that violence and abuse in the context of same sex relationships is also a reality.