In honour of the 2017 Week Without Violence, we asked the question: Why the YW? Why is the YWCA essential to violence intervention, recovery, and prevention?
In the era of the 24-hour news cycle, most of us forget that thousands and thousands of acts of violence take place every day. Despite the numbers, these acts don’t make the news. Whether you know it or not, someone you know has been the victim of violence: your kid’s teacher, your neighbour, your hairdresser, the cashier at the coffee shop, your cousin, your sister, your mom. No one is immune. And their pain and suffering are as real as any you heard about on the news. Domestic and sexual violence is an epidemic in every country in the world.
Given this level of violence, it would be easy to give in to despair and say violence is such a big problem that nothing can be done. But that’s not true. Here at YWCA Edmonton, we do something about it every day.
While it is true that we can’t go back in time and stop the violence that has happened, the YWCA provides services that mitigate the long-term impacts. The psychologists in our Counselling Centre are experts in dealing with domestic violence and trauma. It is a sad reality that the demand for this service far exceeds our capacity, so there is always a waiting list. We also host Lakeside Haven, which is a weekend for women and children who live in second stage housing. The Camp Yowochas volunteers ensure these families have full use of the camp and we do our best to create family memories they will always treasure. For many, it is their first safe family vacation. Everyone deserves a violence-free life, but for those who experience it, they can count on us for compassionate support.
The best hope for ending violence is raising a generation of children who recognize that violence of any kind is not acceptable. YWCA Edmonton’s youth programming (currently for girls but one day soon available for boys) helps young people make healthy choices about the kind of life they want to live. And just as importantly, the program helps them establish boundaries so they can set the tone for the types of behavior they will tolerate from others. We know girls, in particular, are susceptible to mental health issues such as low self-esteem. It is much easier to say no to abuse and coercion when you have confidence. We help young girls become resilient, healthy adults.
So yes violence is a reality for too many people. But it isn’t all despair. The prevention, intervention, and recovery programs offered by YWCA Edmonton make a difference to every person who reaches out to us. We can make this difference because our partners, donors, supporters, and people like you believe in the possibility of a violence-free world.
— Jackie Foord, YWCA Edmonton CEO