On International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women Commit to a plan to End Violence Now

I survived a vicious assault that was life threatening on May 2, 2014.

As I struggled to recover, care for my two children and re-build my life, I learned that there were very few resources available to help. There was limited trauma informed counselling support, I could not access affordable housing and the social assistance funds provided were insufficient.

My experience is one that is shared with thousands of women across the country.

Trying to recover and deal with the psychological and physical impact of a violent assault is even more stressful when you are forced to worry about bills, keeping your family housed and becoming employment ready before your recovery is fully complete. It should not be this way.YWCA_Toronto-Infographic_VAW

The new federal government must recognize and address the fact that violence against women remains systemic and pervasive in Canada. We need a comprehensive, national strategy to eliminate violence against women that sets national standards for prevention, ensures adequate funding for support services and enacts crucial social policies, such as access to safe, affordable housing and child care.

We also know that the face of poverty in this country is female. In every category – single parents, racialized women, Indigenous women, immigrants and refugees – women’s poverty rates are higher than men’s. A critical component of any violence against women strategy must also focus on women’s economic inequality. Women need full-time, living wage employment.

This is crucial because it is the fear of economic hardship that serves as one of the driving forces keeping women and their children trapped in abusive situations. Women should not be forced to choose between staying in an abusive relationship or becoming homeless.

I am calling on the federal government to take action because women who survive violence must be able to find safety, support and justice. What happened to me is neither my fault nor my shame to carry. The shame rests with a system that creates barriers rather than bridges for women escaping violence.

Phyllis is a survivor, a mom and an advocate for ending violence against women