The metaphor is the message
Wednesday, Sep 16, 2015 04:43 pm
The Banff YWCA’s Walk A Mile event on Wednesday (Sept. 16) had a vibrant and joyful atmosphere to it and was a wonderful success raising $57,300 (as of press time) for the organizations violence prevention programs and services.
But it is an event that also raises awareness around the issue of intimate partner violence in the Bow Valley, which as a serious topic of discussion raises the question: how does walking in a pair of heels do that?
It comes down to the fact that this event is about the metaphor it encompasses. Intimate partner violence crosses gender boundaries, but to challenge it in our communities and in our homes means that men are part of the solution.
By walking in the shoes of another, by understanding what women experience, with statistically higher chances of experiencing domestic violence, every man who stood up, put on a pair of colourful fun heels and walked down Main Street sent a message that they are part of the solution. Their metaphor represents a strong voice in support of victims of domestic violence, which manifests itself in different ways.
Each participant by the very fact that they are supporting this cause is walking for that reason – we are in this together and there are programs and services as a community we can support.
The awareness around this issue is also an evolution because it crosses boundaries and by bringing our communities together, this fun event it raises that awareness in a broad and a personal way.
The support for the YWCA is something to be celebrated, as they have a mandate to not only bring awareness to this issue in the valley, but they are the ones that also offer programs and services to address it. Their work empowers us as a community to pull back the curtain of a serious topic and talk about it, think about it and do something about it.
In 2013-14 the numbers of domestic violence cases in Canmore, for example, increased according to figures collected by Bow Valley Victim Services, which provides assistance to victims. They reported 79 cases in over that year, which is up from previous years. From 2009-10 to last year the number of people assisted increased by 17.9 per cent.
Intimate partner violence is the most frequent occurrence victim services respond to, representing 30 to 40 per cent of all files. Rates of domestic violence caseloads have also trended upwards over time ranging from a low of 2.4 per 1,000 permanent residents in 1996-97 to a high of 6.2 in 2013-14. Over five years, the per capita rate has increased by 4.9 per cent.
It would be hard to extrapolate from that data that more incidents are occurring, but much more likely that through awareness, through programs and services, more people experiencing partner violence are reaching out for help. These figures only represent one of our communities and we all know domestic violence is woefully underreported.
Walk A Mile supports this increased awareness and by supporting this fundraising event we as a valley help increase our capacity to address it. With only one shelter space available for those seeking to remove themselves from a violent intimate partner, we still have a lot of work to do and support to give to the Y, which is leading this charge. There is still time to help reach the $60,000 goal of this year’s event by going to their silent auction Facebook page.