If you are a friend or family member of a woman living with abuse the best thing you can do is to believe her, offer her non-judgemental support and a listening ear and to help her connect with her local women's shelter or similar community agency. Most of all always put her safety first. Never talk about the abuse in front of her abuser and unless she specifically asks for it, never give her materials about domestic abuse or leave information through voice messages or emails that might be discovered by her abuser.
On any given day in Ottawa you can find the private sector focused on doing its thing, the decision makers on Parliament Hill locked in their latest battle, the media preoccupied with the news of the day and the lobbyists working away behind the scenes on their own interests. But as this holiday season approaches, an amazing thing is pulling all of the various players on and off the Hill together.
Driving home from dinner last fall, my sister-in-law Jessica told me about her mother's holiday shoebox drive. For many years, Veronica has been asking her friends in Montreal to fill a shoebox with small gift items, which she collects and delivers to a women's shelter. Jessica wanted to do the same thing in Toronto for the Red Door Family Shelter and I immediately offered to get involved.