Central Alberta Women's Emergency Shelter executive director Ian Wheeliker in the living room of the shelter in Red Deer.

More fathers speaking out against violence against women: survey

More men in Alberta recognize that fathers play a pivotal educational role in ending domestic violence according to a new survey commissioned by Alberta Council of Women’s Shelters.

More men in Alberta recognize that fathers play a pivotal educational role in ending domestic violence according to a new survey commissioned by Alberta Council of Women’s Shelters.

The 2nd Alberta Men’s Attitudes about Violence Against Women Survey showed slightly more men than in the 2012 survey identified fathers as the major source for educating not only their sons about healthy, equal relationships and respecting women, but also educating their daughters about their right to healthy, equal relationships.

The majority of men surveyed recognize the role of fathers in speaking out against violence against women.

“For me, that’s a pretty significant positive. That’s good news,” said Ian Wheeliker, executive director of Central Alberta Women’s Emergency Shelter, on Tuesday.

But he said more has to be done to support men in having conversations within the family and community. Discussion has begin with other community agencies like Central Alberta Sexual Assault Centre, Central Alberta Women’s Outreach and Family Services of Central Alberta, on combining forces to do more in the areas of prevention, education and awareness.

Survey results also showed abuse against women is a concern to 97 per cent of men and they are more likely to recognize that violence against women and girls impacts the women they care about.

“We’ve done some work in terms of engaging men and boys in the complex community issue of domestic violence and I’m happy to see that men are taking the issue very seriously four years down the road after the first survey, that we haven’t lost any ground, and that we are trending upwards.

“I think what this says is that there is space and there is a place in community for men to take even more action and to become full participants, shoulder-to-shoulder with women in terms of tackling gender equality and domestic violence.”

He said the telephone survey of 1,478 men including 200 in Central Alberta, was conducted between Jan. 29 and Feb. 14 so it also provided a snapshot during the current economic crisis.

“Even during really tough times for Albertans, we still saw some really positive trends in terms of gender equality and recognition and action on domestic violence, so that is a good sign,” Wheeliker said about the survey results released on Monday.

However since last fall, the Red Deer emergency shelter has been consistently busy and more women are accessing outreach programs and services, he said.

“Definitely we’ve talked to a lot of families that are experiencing crisis for the first time in a long time, or the first time ever.”

Unfortunately, survey results also showed the rape culture is still a concern.

“There’s still a lot of men, in the 40 per cent range, who think women make false allegations about rape and the research doesn’t really support that. Around three per cent of rapes get reported and go to trial,” Wheeliker said.

Yelling is also a common way that couples fight and it’s not a healthy relationship practice, he said.

“It’s a milder form of abuse, but it still can have an abusive impact and a detrimental impact on the development of children.”

On Friday, Central Alberta Women’s Emergency Shelter is hosting its annual gala fundraiser — CAWESino Royale Gala & Benefit at Sheraton Red Deer. For information to become a sponsor or for tickets go to www.cawes.com.

szielinski@bprda.wpengine.com

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