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Hamilton Police Service defines domestic violence as, "A pattern of behaviour used by one person to gain power and control over another person with whom he/she has had an intimate relationship. This pattern of behaviour may include physical violence, sexual, emotional, and psychological intimidation, verbal abuse, stalking and using electronic devices to harass and control."
According to Statistics Canada:
- Half of all women in Canada have experienced at least one incident of physical or sexual violence since the age of 16.
- Every six days, a woman in Canada is killed by her intimate partner.
- On any given day in Canada, more than 3,300 women (along with their 3,000 children) are forced to sleep in emergency shelters to escape domestic violence. Every night, approximately 200 women are turned away because shelters are full.
- Each year, over 40,000 arrests result from domestic violence -- that’s about 12 per cent of all violent crime in Canada. The real number is much higher since only 22 per cent of all incidents are reported to police.
And, it's not only women who are affected by domestic violence. Children who witness domestic violence in their homes are affected as deeply as if they themselves were the target of the abuse.
- Each year in Canada, an estimated 362,000 children witness or experience family violence.
- For children, witnessing family violence is as harmful as experiencing it.
- Children who witness this violence are at immediate risk of being physically injured.
- Children who grow up in violent homes are more likely to be victims of physical abuse.
- Exposure to violence can affect brain development, inhibit learning, cause anxiety, aggression, bullying, phobias, and insomnia.
It's well documented that domestic violence has a far reaching impact that ultimately affects everyone within a community.
In 2012, three survivors of domestic violence met over coffee with no great expectations. Instead, these women had an epiphany that was truly visionary. According to 1inFour founder Cathy Watts, "We sat down, expecting to enjoy each other's company on a sunny summer afternoon. Instead what transpired over the next 90 minutes was life changing, and we walked away with a solid plan scratched onto a coffeehouse napkin. It started with a mini gripe session, about the complications of our lives and how great services in Hamilton are, but how awkward it sometimes was to access them. We saw a need. Rather than continue to gripe, we devised a solution. And, 1inFour was born.”
The name originated from the statistic that globally, one in four women will be abused or subjected to gender-based violence in their lifetime. Unfortunately, that number has since increased to one in three.
The initative, "1inFour: The Domestic Violence Project," is a grassroots volunteer organization committed to helping women in Hamilton support themselves, and their children, as they heal from domestic violence. In an effort to help women and children live lives free of domestic violence, the group has created a website that includes resources and services a woman may find helpful when living with or leaving an abusive relationship.
A comprehensive listing of shelters, counselling for women and children, legal services, and police services is rounded out with local support services including a section listing agencies providing food, clothing, furniture and help finding housing.
The site also features monthly calendars listing free groups, events and classes to assist women transitioning to a violence-free life. The popular "Women's Weekly" support group focuses on issues related to women who have experienced violence. But, there are also free yoga, fitness, aqua fit, and cooking classes, as well as social events, including a Pictionary party.
1inFour works closely with the Social Planning Council of Hamilton to secure funding for this incorporated organization. Ongoing funding is essential for 1inFour to continue expanding its website and community partnerships to ensure women become empowered to make the best choices for themselves and their children.
Recently, 1inFour received much needed funding through the Hamilton Community Foundation (HCF). 1inFour board member Margaret Barrie was very enthusiastic about the financial contribution stating, "We would like to thank the HCF for its generous contribution to 1inFour through the George and Shirley McBride Foundation Fund. These funds will allow us to continue to help women and children live lives free of domestic violence."
The HCF is Ontario's first community foundation. Last year the Foundation gave 561 grants to 227 charities, granting some $5.8 million across Hamilton. Since it was founded in 1954, HCF has distributed more than $88 million to thousands of community programs.
Thanks to community funding, 1inFour is building bridges between services and clients in Hamilton with the long term goal of taking their website province-wide. According to Watts, "The best way to achieve this goal is to get known! If 1inFour can be a name on the tip of your tongue when discussing domestic violence issues in Hamilton, much in the way Kleenex has replaced "tissue," or Coke has replaced "cola," then we will truly have made the difference we seek."
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