Be More Than a Bystander: The Initiative
A Partnership Between the Ending Violence Association of BC and the BC Lions Football Club with Financial Support from Status of Women Canada, the BC Ministry of Children and Family Development and Encana Corporation
“Be More Than a Bystander” is a groundbreaking initiative between EVA BC and the BC Lions aimed at substantially increasing understanding of the impact of men’s violence against women. The program will break the silence surrounding violence against women and girls by providing tools, language and practical ideas about how to be more than a bystander, how to speak up and how to communicate that violence and abuse is not acceptable. Founding partners are Status of Women Canada, the BC Ministry of Children and Family Development and Encana Corporation.
This 3-year initiative, guided by an advisory group of women who are experts in the area of violence against women, will see sports icons from the BC Lions Football Club use their status and public profile to educate about violence against women in BC and urge everyone to “Break the Silence on Violence Against Women”.
In addition to the broad public education program, BC Lions players will also be going into schools throughout BC to talk to students in grades 8 to 12 about how their individual choices and actions can be part of creating positive social change. The curriculum for the school program will be produced in association with Jackson Katz, renowned educator and gender activist, who will be working with EVA BC to tailor program materials for this initiative. These materials will also be used to train coaches of amateur football teams in BC on how to talk to youth about violence, respectful relationships and speaking up. The program will create a legacy film that will be distributed to communities throughout BC. In its third year, a symposium will be held on public education related to violence against women.
The overarching project consists of four components:
- A series of 40 school-based interactive educational workshops about gender-based violence to be facilitated by BC Lions players. The program will promote the importance of respectful relationships and what boys can do to help. The program will be targeted to youth in grades 8 to 12. As the vast majority of males don't use violence against women, the program will have a strong focus on ‘bystander' education, that is, helping boys know what to say and do when other males they know are abusing or disrespecting women or girls. This education will become life lessons that will no doubt assist them into and throughout adulthood.
- Training presented to adult football coaches by BC Lions players at an amateur football coaches' clinic aimed at helping coaches of amateur football teams in BC learn how to talk to kids about violence against women and respectful relationships.
- A series of in-season football Public Service Announcements featuring BC Lions players for television, radio and DiamondVision screen presentations to be played at BC Lions games, with the positive message that it is ‘cool' to respect women and girls and that it is important to speak up if others do not show such respect. These messages are also to be included on the EVA BC website at www.endingviolence.org. The key message of this aspect of the program is that violence against women is preventable and that those close by such as friends and family have a crucial role to play.
- Development of a film and viewer's guide directed at youth, with positive messaging that it is ‘cool' to respect women, how attitudes and behaviours are an essential piece of the action to prevent violence against women and girls and the importance of bystanders speaking up.
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).
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.
Violence Against Women is Also 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 that 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.
Be More Than a Bystander Links
Project Partner Links