Sensational newspaper headlines about domestic violence in Alberta have run globally in the past two weeks. “40 Per Cent of Men in Alberta Poll Say Women ‘Put Themselves at Risk For Rape’.” “Survey finds nearly 10% of Alberta men OK with assault.”
The telephone survey, conducted by Leger Marketing on behalf of the Alberta Council of Women’s Shelters (ACWS), polled 1,000 adult men in Alberta. They were asked for their views on violence against women, gender equity, perceptions of domestic violence, and the role men can play in reducing and preventing it.
Beyond the headlines mentioned above, some of the more disconcerting results found that over half of those polled agreed that “a woman can leave a violent relationship if she really wants to” and that a quarter of them feel that domestic violence should not be considered a criminal offense, in certain instances.
Answers make it clear that more education is needed but also show a lot of progress. Of those 1,000 men:99% agree that men can make a difference in promoting respectful, non-violent relationships;
- 96% don’t believe it’s acceptable to hurt a woman who withholds sex;
- 95% feel concerned by violence against women and girls;
- 91% say they would intervene if they knew someone was in a violent relationship;
- and 56% say they are more aware of domestic violence issues than five years ago.
Asked about prevention, most men agreed that speaking out against violence begins in the home. Most understand their possible role as change agents, like educating their sons and daughters about respectful and healthy relationships. They also see schools, celebrities, athletes and community leaders as playing a role in the messaging.
The results were released last week in Calgary at ACWS’ annual “Breakfast with the Guys” fundraiser, designed to encourage men and boys to take a stand against domestic violence. The breakfast featured a panel of experts from government, law enforcement, business, sport and social advocacy. The panel agreed that awareness and education are critical. Many Alberta shelters, including Discovery House, are strategizing about how to do just that. We’d like to hear your feedback. Please post your comments on this BLOG, or join the conversation on Twitter or Facebook below!