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Understanding Abuse

Understanding Abuse: Partnering for Change

Mary Lou Stirling
Catherine Ann Cameron
Nancy Nason-Clark
Baukje Miedema
Copyright Date: 2004
Pages: 320
  • Book Info
    Understanding Abuse
    Book Description:

    The more we learn about family violence, the more it becomes apparent that it is a complex and multifaceted issue. Family violence is more than woman abuse. It is also more than child abuse, sibling abuse, parent abuse, or elder abuse. It is all of these violations and more. Nevertheless, family violence is gendered; most abused victims are female and most perpetrators are male. Family violence is not merely personal. It is also a consequence of social inequality, and in that sense is socially constructed.

    Based on research projects conducted over ten years,Understanding Abuseprofiles the work done by researchers of issues related to woman abuse and family violence. The contributors demonstrate the strength of community-based, action-oriented collaborations by carefully identifying the multiplicity of causes, clearly articulating the issues raised by abused women, and seeking to identify realistic solutions. Not only does this work provide invaluable information for policy makers on successful versus unsuccessful programs to prevent violence, it also provides academic and community researchers with detailed data on the intricacies of academic-community action research partnerships.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-8287-0
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-viii)
  3. Foreword
    (pp. ix-xii)
    Anne Crocker and Margaret Norrie McCain

    The story of the Muriel McQueen Fergusson Centre for Family Violence Research begins in Fredericton, New Brunswick, in 1977, when a small group of people gathered in a local living room to discuss establishing a shelter for women victims of abuse and their children. A core group decided to pursue community support and funding to open a shelter. As a first step, they sought information - especially statistics - about the incidence of family violence from the police, hospitals, and government agencies. Unfortunately, no statistics were available except from the Fredericton police. The Provincial Department of Social Services had no...

  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xiii-2)
  5. Introduction
    (pp. 3-20)
    Baukje Miedema and Nancy Nason-Clark

    Nearly ten years ago, a group of researchers, community activists, and other women and men interested in understanding woman abuse and family violence in Atlantic Canada crowded around a very large table in the Tartan Room of the Alumni Memorial Building on the campus of the University of New Brunswick. This was one of the first networking meetings of the Muriel McQueen Fergusson Centre for Family Violence Research, and its purpose was straightforward: to share the vision, to report on progress, to identify problems, and to become better acquainted with one another. Assembled in this context were women and men...

    (pp. 21-22)
    Sheree Fitch

    ʹAll in together girls, just fine weather girls.ʹ I remember it like yesterday – part of a skipping rope song –

    At recess me and my girlfriends (on the girl side of the school playground) had a great old time till the bell rang. Usually, every recess, over on the boyʹs side, a fight broke out. (Iʹve heard these days itʹs just as likely to be the girls.)

    Anyhow, back to my point. In this particular skipping rope game We were the months of the calendar year. One girl jumped in as January, skipped one beat, then had to get...

  7. Building Collaborative, Action-Oriented Research Teams
    (pp. 23-52)
    E. Sandra Byers and Deborah Harrison

    The Muriel McQueen Fergusson Centre for Family Violence Research was established in 1992 to examine the full range of issues related to family violence and violence against women through a collaborative effort between the Muriel McQueen Fergusson Foundation (MMFF) and the University of New Brunswick (UNB). The MMFF (established in 1985) is a charitable trust located in Fredericton, New Brunswick, that has the goal of eliminating family violence by funding research into the causes, incidence, and forms of treatment of family violence, and by promoting and sponsoring effective public education programs. The MMFF proposed to raise the funds needed to...

    (pp. 53-54)
    Sheree Fitch

    Outside my kitchen window are sunflowers seven feet high their big brown eyes the same colour as the bruises beneath mine.

    With the children gone now, he is no gentle man farmer his demons thrive, the farm withers.

    I am pickling beets today the juice stains my hands I am reminded of my own blood

    Just this morning a deer appeared, flicked its tail at me as if to beckon me, dare me, to follow.

    I had a fantasy.

    Some morning soon, I will wipe my hands on my apron make a bouquet of sunflowers walk in to the woods...

  9. Abuse in a Rural and Farm Context
    (pp. 55-82)
    Deborah Doherty and Jennie Hornosty

    During the past twenty years, research on family violence¹ generally, and woman abuse in particular, has increased significantly. Yet comparatively little research, either in Canada or the United States, has focused specifically on the situation and needs of abused women in farm and rural communities (Canadian Farm Womenʹs Network 1995; Epprecht 2001; Jiwani 1998; Logan, Walker, and Leukelfeld 2000; Schissel 1992; Van Hightower, Gorton, and DeMoss 2000). This lacuna in understanding the reality of abused women in geographically isolated communities may be due, in part, to the urbocentric bias of many social researchers or the assumption that no differences exist...

    (pp. 83-84)
    Sheree Fitch

    pressing the buzzer thinking how ugly the sound of a buzzer

    an intercom voice asking: who is there wanting to say me just me choking on my name

    the sound of my voice thinking how ugly the sound of my voice making it all too real

    doors unlocking the woman named Valerie her eyes like pillows a calico cat on a green paisley couch a desk piled high with papers

    then there were whispers a kind of chorus:

    someone new is coming someone new is coming someone new is coming do we have enough room someone new is coming hear...

  11. Keeping It Confidential: A Struggle for Transition Houses
    (pp. 85-108)
    Carmen Poulin, Lynne Gouliquer, Bette Brazier, Judy Hughes, Bev Brazier, Rina Arseneault, Sarah MacAulay and Lynne Thériault

    ʹBewilderingʹ often aptly describes ʹconfidentiality.ʹ In the context of transition houses, confidentiality is based on a complex, multifaceted, and sometimes contradictory set of assumptions. It represents a juggling act between individual and group demands and rights in the context of a legal, political, and antiwoman social realities. In this chapter, working from the standpoint of transition house workers,¹ we explore the complicated dynamics of confidentiality. In doing so, we hope to illuminate the challenges and contradictions it represents. We begin by describing the theoretical, political, and practical incentives for keeping information confidential in the context of the shelter movement in...

    (pp. 109-110)
    Sheree Fitch

    7:45 The Getaway. Leave for work.

    7:46 Start crying. Mascara runs. Stings eyes.

    8:00 Stop for coffee. Wipe my face. Reapply make-up. Puffiness down somewhat. Beige Powder does not cover ink blue yellow cheekbone. Surprise, surprise.

    8:10 Arrive work.

    8:15 Meet with supervisor. He pretends not to notice my face.

    8:20 Wipe down counters. Open the till. Sheila, at the next cash looks at me. Her mouths opens then shuts. A human till. ʹA ringuette game,ʹ I smile. She does not smile back.

    8:30 Supermarket opens.

    8.30-10.15 Keep my face sideways, look down at produce. Cauliflower, porkchops, green pepper. Do...

  13. Working with Abuse: Workplace Responses to Family Violence
    (pp. 111-132)
    E. Joy Mighty

    When employees enter their places of work suffering anguish and distress from the abuse of a family member, their plight has typically been regarded as a private family matter that has no relevance to the workplace. There has developed a substantial body of literature that examines issues dealing with the problems employees experience in trying to balance work and family life, and with the role and responsibilities of employers in creating working conditions, programs, and benefits that take account of those problems; however, employers have not normally been expected to ʹinterfereʹ with what takes place in the home. Their jurisdiction,...

    (pp. 133-134)
    Sheree Fitch

    both my children sleep I know the rhythm of their breathing textures of their skin the way they are curled in dreams

    one moans the other stirs

    I know exactly who does what

    I am thankful that in darkness there are things I know

    for tomorrow when sunlight trembles through that window there and eyes ask questions I would rather not answer

    I will not even be sure of my own voice...

  15. Children and Partner Abuse in New Brunswick Law: How Responsibilities Get Lost in Rights
    (pp. 135-152)
    Linda C. Neilson

    One of the contentious issues in family law today is how best to protect children when one parent alleges that the other parent has engaged in partner abuse.² This chapter examines the effects on children of legal practices in partner abuse cases, as perceived by parents. The focus, then, is on issues related to the responsibility to protect children whose parents are involved in custody and access disputes where partner abuse has been alleged.

    The chapter is drawn from a research study designed by a research team of practicing professionals from law, social work, psychology, mediation, and sociology, representing academic,...

    (pp. 153-154)
    Sheree Fitch

    There is a conspiracy here: bruises and whispers locked in boxes inside of boxes inside of boxes. for security reasons, you might say but whose security?

    For years now, I have not known what it means to be ʹat ease.ʹ

    At night sometimes, I dream of peace keepers storming through my doors coming to my rescue

    Yes, I would say: I have been a prisoner of war. Save me....

  17. The Canadian Forcesʹ Response to Woman Abuse in Military Families
    (pp. 155-194)
    Deborah Harrison

    The United Nations Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women defined violence against women as ʹany act of gender-based violence that results in, or is likely to result in, physical, sexual or psychological harm or suffering to women, including threats of such acts, coercion or arbitrary deprivation of libertyʹ (cited in Canadian Panel on Violence against Women 1993). Woman abuse is a significant social problem. Each year, more than one million Canadian women are battered or sexually assaulted (Day 1995). Around the world, one woman in every four is physically or sexually assaulted during pregnancy, usually by her partner...

    (pp. 195-196)
    Sheree Fitch

    The woman at the immigration office has eyes the colour of the sea back home when the sun shone, shines is shiny shining?

    She nods and sometimes fills in the blanks when I do not have vocula- voc- a- bu – the words. She talks to the children and give thempeppermints

    Peppermints– a happy word, I am thinking.

    That day the doorbell rang and there she stood, with green garbage bags of clothes for us — I had no where to hide.

    ʹWhat happened?ʹ she asked. The colour of her eyes was grey then, like a rain cloud...

  19. Gendered Silence: Immigrant Womenʹs Access to Legal Information about Woman Abuse
    (pp. 197-218)
    Sandra Wachholz and Baukje Miedema

    As Fitzpatrick and Kelly underscore, ʹWhile the saga of the female migrant is brave and intriguing, it is known to few. Its story has many divergent plots, but in each recital gender powerfully shapes its fateʹ (1998, 47). It is known to few because discussions surrounding immigration in Canada have obscured many of the legal and socioeconomic problems of female immigrants and have generally failed to examine the complex ways in which factors such as race, class, age, and ethnicity influence these problems. Instead, questions surrounding border control, immigration restrictions and regulations, and the causes and consequences of immigration in...

    (pp. 219-220)
    Sheree Fitch

    This is the way we go to church go to church go to church This is the way we go to church early Sunday morning

    And I did, my whole life.

    I believe in God the father, God the son and God the Holy Spirit.

    So many men, Iʹve prayed to—and some invisible phantom.

    We are not worthy so much as to gather up thy crumbs under thy table

    Thatʹs right, Iʹm like some mangy dog, begging.

    Suffer little children.

    My children have suffered enough.

    I feel my flesh has been eaten and my blood drained and I am...

  21. Building Bridges between Churches and Community Resources: An Overview of the Work of the Religion and Violence Research Team
    (pp. 221-246)
    Nancy Nason-Clark, Lois P. Mitchell and Lori G. Beaman

    The Religion and Violence Research Team of the Muriel McQueen Fergusson Centre for Family Violence Research at UNB has been working since 1992 to understand what happens when an abused religious woman looks for help within her faith community. Our multidisciplinary research group conducted a series of studies throughout Atlantic Canada with the explicit purpose of examining this issue from a variety of perspectives – those of abused religious women, transition house staff, clergy, congregations, church womenʹs groups, youth, religious leaders, and men and women of faith. Not surprisingly, there are many tales to tell – some are of hope...

    (pp. 247-248)
    Sheree Fitch

    If you live in Smalltown, Anywhere Either by choice or birth You canʹt escape Certain truths.

    In this small town Folks ʹd give you the shirt off their backs in a flash Stab ya in the back just as quick, too.

    In this small town Folks are regular churchgoers But live mostly according To the Gospel of Gossip.

    In this small town Folks know everybodyʹs kids And who the bastards are

    In this small town You canʹt bury your past Or hide the worst

    In this small town Weʹve got it all:Winners, losers Saints, sinners Homemade quilts Pot luck...

  23. Private Matters and Public Knowledge in Rural Communities: The Paradox
    (pp. 249-266)
    Arlene Haddon, Marilyn Merritt-Gray and Judith Wuest

    It is widely believed that everyone knows everything about everybody in rural communities. No one is anonymous. In this chapter we discuss a participatory action research study in which we uncovered the important and complex role that public visibility and privacy play in a rural communityʹs response to woman abuse. The lack of rural anonymity engenders a need to develop and maintain a high level of interpersonal privacy that is related to more than issues of abuse. Understanding the essential and constructive nature of privacy in rural communities may enable helpers to be more culturally sensitive to the complex nature...

    (pp. 267-268)
    Sheree Fitch

    Emily. she is six she has a sense of humour draws pictures of dragons her eyes are like a rabbitʹs pink-rimmed and steady today I read her a story saw a smile she said she liked the way the story ended happy ever after.

    Jason. Twelve. a volcano today he pounded a castle his sister made of play-dough pounded so hard he made his knuckles bleed called me a bitch when I told him to stop my name is Barbara I said he pounded the table again kicked his mother kicking is not allowed in this house I told him...

  25. Schools Are Not Enough: It Takes a Whole Community
    (pp. 269-294)
    Catherine Ann Cameron and Creating Peaceful Learning Environments Team

    The voices raised in this chapter are those of adolescent girls who have engaged in community-based violence prevention workshops, which focus on sources of violence in the socialization of girls and young women and on strategies for achieving violence-free communities.² Our Creating Peaceful Learning Environments Schoolsʹ Team at the Muriel McQueen Fergusson Centre for Family Violence Research (MMF Centre) is comprised of members from all sectors of the New Brunswick educational community. It includes classroom teachers, school district and provincial education personnel, teachersʹ association representatives, and university faculty and students. The teamʹs research over the past decade has included needs...

    (pp. 295-296)
    Sheree Fitch

    Last week my best friend Amanda Told me her boyfriend Mark slapped her on Saturday night So I marched right up to that pig and gave him a piece of my mind ʹShe hit me first!ʹ he said ʹBoohoo!ʹ I said. ʹYouʹre the stronger one. Itʹs up to you to walk away.ʹ (Iʹm the oldest in our family. Thatʹs what my mother always told me.) Mark showed me his arm. Scratch marks. So I went back to Amanda and told her what he said and asked if it was true and she said: ʹYes.ʹ So I went home and talked...

  27. Passing the Torch: Students Teaching Students about Dating Violence
    (pp. 297-320)
    Krista Byers-Heinlein, Jamie Hart, Tammy Harrison, Justin Matchett and E. Sandra Byers

    The Dating Violence Research Team is a multidisciplinary team that has been involved in conducting action-oriented research on dating violence for the past eight years. The Dating Violence Research Team consists of academics, government employees, professionals working in schools and in community-based agencies, and graduate students. In addition, the members of the Dating Violence Research Team who work directly with youth consult with students individually and in groups on specific aspects of our work. We came together out of a common concern about dating violence. For some of us, this concern was based on experiences working with youth. For others...

  28. Epilogue
    (pp. 321-324)
    Mary Lou Stirling and Catherine Ann Cameron

    This book is the story of a community of research partners, who for a decade have dedicated themselves to the mission of preventing and ultimately eradicating woman abuse and family violence. It also serves as a powerful demonstration that positive steps have been made toward discharging that mission. However, the mission has not yet been accomplished.

    Through the work of a good many practitioners, researchers, and the women themselves, over the past two decades, and more recently through community-based action research, the silence about abuse has been broken. Our society is much more aware of both the extent and the...

    (pp. 325-326)
    Sheree Fitch

    I am the angel of this house

    house of broken dreams

    house where dreams begin again

    house of women

    At night when you are sleeping

    I sing lullabies

    lullabies for every Edna









    and all the women before you

    and all the ones whose names

    I do not know yet

    who will come after

    I sing lullabies for Jason

    and all the sons of violence

    lullabies for the men who live here

    in the nightmares and the dreams

    of all the women

    hope my song will float and settle

    upon their foreheads