Gender-based violence – whether it be catcalling, domestic, emotional manipulation or sexual violence – affects so many Edmontonians of all genders. It’s Time Edmonton, as the face of Edmonton’s Gender-based Violence and Sexual Assault Prevention Council Initiative, is about bringing conversations about these difficult topics out of the shadows. Everyone is impacted, everyone has a story. The pain of sexual violence is closer than you might think to each and every one of us.

 

Domestic Violence is the catchall term we use when we speak about the many forms of abuse and violence a person uses to gain control, power or to induce fear over someone with whom they are in a dependent or trusting relationship. These forms of violence can take many shapes – someone may be controlling your finances, monitoring your social media accounts, calling you demeaning names, threatening your life with their physical power – these are just a small fraction of ways that violence is perpetuated in relationships. Sometimes, people don’t even recognize that what they are experiencing is actually abuse. That’s why education and having public conversations about domestic violence is so important.

It’s Time Edmonton is committed to a bold public conversation about domestic violence, and many other forms of gender-based violence. Our initiative is called It’s Time because it’s time we start telling a new story.

Across Canada, and around the world, there is momentum. As we’ve seen with the overwhelming response to the #MeToo campaign, and with the wonderful message of #IBelieveYou, we’re starting to see a shift in dialogue that will hopefully lead to a culture that supports gender-based violence survivors, that empowers them to no longer hide in the shadows, and that puts the responsibility squarely on the shoulders of the individuals who harmed them.

 

We’re seeing a culture shift closer to home too. The City of Edmonton uses gender-based analysis [GBA+] when making decisions about everything from road work to social policy. Women’s Initiative Edmonton is working hard to provide a women’s lens to City Council decision-making, and to balance the lack of gender equality on our City Council. Provincially, the Alberta Status of Women branch leads the government’s work to increase gender equality in Alberta. The community is driving change with messages like #ibelieveyou seen all over the city and social media.

It’s clear we have work to do. The Gender-Based Violence and Sexual Assault Prevention Council initiative was started in 2015 to tackle that work in a bold way –  starting conversations, shaping attitudes and working collaboratively with other agencies to prevent all forms of gender-based violence. These are big picture changes we are talking about, and it’s not something that happens overnight. Cultural, institutional, and social changes need to occur. But it IS time to come together for social change, and we all have a role to play. Gender-based violence is as diverse as gender, and within our initiative, we are starting with a focus on domestic and sexual violence.

 

We believe these conversations are a big part of creating social change. And so, we’ve created a team of unconventional partners – some of the biggest, most influential organizations, media, and businesses in our city – that have made the commitment to use their spheres of influence to address gender-based violence with their audiences. They’re helping us to educate, share resources, and bring these issues out of the shadows. Each Commitment to Action partner is developing their own actions to create change where they can, and we’re so grateful for their assistance in helping us to move this culture shift forward.

Have you ever wondered what your own role is in preventing and addressing gender-based violence? Author John Pavlovitz calls upon us all, but especially men and boys, to think about:

  • The times you stood silently in the company of a group of catcalling men
  • The way you voraciously consumed pornography without a second thought of the deep humanity and the beautiful stories beneath the body parts
  • The times you pressured a woman to give more of herself than she felt comfortable giving, and how we justified ourselves after we had
  • The times you laughed along with a group of men speaking words that denied the intrinsic value of women
  • In the times you imagined our emotional proximity to a woman entitled us to physical liberties

 

Now is a great time to notice, speak and act on what is happening in our homes, communities and city. We welcome you to do just that!

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