Domestic violence – New grants: think inclusion

Opinion letter sent to the media on Friday, April 30, 2021

François Legault’s government recently announced that almost $223 million in new funding will be made available to combat conjugal violence.

Of this amount, $92 million will be distributed to shelters and hostels for women who are victims of conjugal violence. The remaining $131 million will be spent on future announcements, including strengthening services that help abusive men.

Helping men—all men—is also part of the solution.

At last we are thinking about including men in the issue of domestic violence! Because, yes, men are part of the problem since they are, for the most part, the aggressors. We must therefore support the existing organizations that offer support and direct assistance to violent men, but we must also encourage the steps being taken to reach men who are off the beaten track. This means, for example, helping homeless men.

Because a real solution to this scourge must include all those involved, and there is no doubt that men, regardless of their social status, play a major role.

Think about helping all women, without exception.

However, this action plan, this assistance plan, which includes substantial and recurring grants, must also be extended to women who do not end up in traditional shelters or hostels for abused women, including women who are in a state of homelessness or at risk of becoming so. These women are extremely vulnerable to conjugal violence when they find themselves on the street and, more often than not, they are there because their personal history is deeply marked by domestic violence: rape, incest, repeated physical and verbal aggression…

Our organization, La rue des Femmes, comes to the aid of these wounded, bruised women who, while on the street, are easy prey for all the aggressors, pimps and drug dealers of this world and therefore remain, unfortunately, victims of domestic violence.

We must not pretend otherwise: even without a fixed address, these adult women are still sexual beings and have intimate relationships with men, and intimate relationships mean conjugal relationships that are often unhealthy, involving denigration, emotional blackmail, beatings, and more. In short, homeless women are also victims of conjugal violence, even if they are not in what we recognize as a traditional context.

At La rue des Femmes, we offer these women a roof over their heads, but also—and above all—adequate care to get them back on their feet. At their own pace.

So thank you, Mr. Legault, for not putting all your eggs in one basket and for financially supporting multiple organizations with various vocations but which, when we look closely, are all working in the same direction: to help women victims of conjugal violence escape their situation. All women.

Let’s remove our blinders and see as broadly as the problem itself. Let’s unite to find lasting solutions so that all those involved in the vicious cycle of violence against women are taken care of, from the abusers who need help to regain the ability to deal with all the anger that is bubbling up inside them, to the children and mothers who need to be removed quickly and effectively from their toxic environment, to the homeless women who wander from place to place.

Warmth. Humanity. Solidarity. Together, let’s build a Québec that loves its women. All its women. Without exception.

Léonie Couture
Founding President, La rue des Femmes