CALGARY — Nearly one in 10 Alberta men believes it's OK to physically assault a woman if she does something to make him angry.
one of the startling findings of a recent survey examining men's
attitudes toward domestic violence. And while the survey results
indicate awareness about domestic violence is on the rise in Alberta, it
also makes it clear the province still has a long way to go.
telephone survey, conducted in February by Leger Marketing, quizzed
1,000 Alberta men about their attitudes on gender equity and domestic
The results of the survey were released in Calgary
Monday, when the Alberta Council of Women's Shelters (ACWS) hosted its
annual "Breakfast With the Guys" fundraiser, an event aimed at
empowering men and boys to take a stand against domestic violence.
ACWS provincial co-ordinator Jan Reimer said she has "mixed emotions" about the information brought to light by the survey.
the one hand, some of the responses are cause for optimism — for
example, 56 per cent of men say they are more aware of domestic violence
issues than they were five years ago, and 91 per cent say they would
intervene if they knew someone in a violent relationship.
the other results, however, are more disturbing. Fifty-two per cent of
men surveyed said they believe a woman can leave a violent relationship
if she really wants to, while only 52 per cent disagreed with the
statement, "If a woman wears provocative clothing, she's putting herself
at risk for rape."
Thirteen per cent of the survey respondents
said domestic violence is not as serious if it results from people
getting so angry they temporarily lose control. And eight per cent,
nearly one in 10 of the men surveyed, did not agree that it's never
acceptable to physically assault a woman if she did something to incite
Reimer said the information gleaned from the survey
will be useful to those who work in the field of domestic violence
response and prevention, helping them to target their message and design
"This is where we're at," said Reimer. "We've got a
realistic appraisal here, so now let's take what we know and see how we
can make a difference to make things better."
Guest panellists at
Monday's event included Enbridge president and CEO Pat Daniel, Calgary
police Chief Rick Hanson, White Ribbon Campaign program director
Humberto Carolo, activist and former NHLer Sheldon Kennedy, and Alberta
Premier Alison Redford — who said some of the survey results "made me
sick to my stomach."
Redford said one of the statistics that
stood out for her was the fact that 21 per cent of men surveyed said
slapping a child's face is acceptable behaviour.
"I think that is
very troubling, and as a mother of a nine-year-old, I want us to do
better as a community," she said. "We have to start saying to people
that this behaviour is inappropriate . . . It's not acceptable in
Alberta in 2012."
Redford urged the "silent majority" of Albertans to hold their neighbours, family, and friends to a higher standard.
sentiment was echoed by Hanson, who said the Calgary Police Service
responds to 14,000 domestic calls every year, and that many more
incidents of domestic violence go unreported. He told the crowd it's
easy for people to tell a telephone surveyor that if they saw domestic
violence occurring, they would intervene. Hanson said it's a lot harder —
but just as important — to stand up to a friend who makes derogatory
remarks about women or slings insults at his ex-wife.
people say, 'Oh yeah, if I saw it I'd intervene. If I saw some guy
beating up a woman, I'd intervene.' But there's too many other things
that they ignore," Hanson said. "Part of that is the verbal abuse . . .
And I think that's where we need to elevate our game and say, 'That's
not acceptable.' "
According to a report released by Statistics
Canada in 2011, Alberta and Saskatchewan have the highest rates of
spousal abuse in the country.