On Mother’s Day, we celebrate our moms – women who bring us into the world, raise us and love us no matter what we do. They love us so much, they’ll even point out our faults without prompting and tell us how to do better!
In the midst of the festivities, it’s sobering to realize that so many mothers will spend this special day experiencing abuse or taking refuge in shelters. On any given day in Canada, more than 3,300 women (along with their 3,000 children) are forced to sleep in an emergency shelter to escape domestic violence. Every night, about 200 women are turned away because the shelters are full.
The rate of abuse is sobering. A new study by Interval House, Canada’s first shelter for abused women, shows that 1 in 6 Canadians (16%) acknowledge that their own mother had been abused. The study also showed that 36% of Canadians know a mother who has experienced domestic violence. These numbers are consistent with other research from around the globe on violence against women.
Violence against mothers impacts children too. The effects are persistent and far- reaching. Children who witness domestic abuse can experience learning challenges as well as behavioural and mental health issues that can extend long into adulthood. Studies show that these children can be more likely to repeat the cycle, growing up to become victims or abusers themselves.
On a positive note, The Interval House study also showed that the majority of Canadians (94%) believe that a woman should not stay in an abusive relationship for the sake of her children. However, there is a disconnect between this day of celebration of those special women who nurture and love us and the disregard our society often shows for their safety and security.
This Mother’s Day, we can reconnect our love for our moms and our respect for all women by joining or replicating a program initiated by the YMCA of Peterborough Haliburton. They run “Gifts With Meaning”, a program that turns donations into supports for women in abusive relationships.
For example, for less than $200, you can provide one night of safe haven for a women fleeing domestic violence or for $20, the YMCA will purchase a week’s worth of cell phone service to give a victim some peace of mind. There are lots of choices and your mom gets a special greeting card telling her about the gift you’ve made with her in mind. If there’s no similar program in your area, you can make a donation to a local shelter or support service.
There’s no better day this year to celebrate our moms by recognizing the value of all women and making a big difference for a victim of domestic violence.