Sandra Hawken Diaz
President & CEO, Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital Foundation
Sandra Hawken is an outspoken equity advocate, fundraiser and non-profit leader. She is the President & CEO of Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital Foundation - Canada's largest foundation dedicated to creating a world of possibilities for kids with disabilities.
I've been a Toronto FC season's ticket holder for five years and I'm the mother of TFCs most devoted fan. So it was my 13-year-old TFC enthusiast who was the first person I wanted to talk to about the appalling sexual harassment at the Mothers Day match when a fan shouted "F--- her right in the pussy" at CityNews reporter, Shauna Hunt. Turns out our kids have been sharing this offensive "prank" for a year and most of us hadn't really heard about it or thought to talk to them about it until this week. Shouting "F--- her right in the pussy" is sexual harassment, verbal assault and a blatant threat of rape.
When mothers are abused their children are also significantly impacted. The abuse ripple-effect is far reaching. Children who witness their mother's abuse can experience learning challenges, behavioural and mental health issues and these long-term effects can extend far into adulthood. The Interval House study also showed the majority of Canadians do not believe that a woman should stay in an abusive relationship for the sake of the children. It is a positive shift that so many Canadians support mothers leaving an abusive relationship, rather than insisting on keeping the family unit intact no matter what.
05/06/2015 05:13 EDT
Abuse is always the responsibility of the abuser. Always. If we want to significantly change attitudes and feel optimistic about progress then we need to hear people saying loudly that there is no action or choice by a victim that can ever justify abuse. Not if she cheats on him, if she's a bad cook, if she nags, if she hates his mother, if she is passive, if she has different priorities, if she's stressed out, if she doesn't feel like sex, if she likes to spend, if she's a poor communicator, if she hates mopping the floor or if she forgets his birthday.
03/04/2015 12:47 EST
Sure there are stars who saw temporary road bumps in their career for their publicized violence against women like Roman Polanski, Mel Gibson, Chris Brown, Tommy Lee, Ike Turner, Bobby Brown and Nicholas Cage. But most of them bounced back and continue to have devoted fans. What message does that send to women who have been abused? That their life is not as important as a great film or song or game or show? What does it say about each of us that we likely have admitted to appreciating the talent of at least one famous abuser?
11/25/2014 07:59 EST
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.
10/02/2014 11:18 EDT
Every time someone clicks on that video we re-victimize Janay Palmer. Every time someone watches it, we are voyeuristic bystanders to her abuse. The real question is: why would we want to watch a woman be violated, humiliated, devalued, brutalized and abused?
09/10/2014 12:32 EDT
We've all seen the recent headlines with high profile allegations of domestic abuse. I can't count the number of times I've heard friends and family ask the same question of those stories: "why doesn't she just leave?" Too many people assume that if a woman is in an abusive relationship that she is making a choice to stay and that she has the power to end the abuse if she just leaves.
11/26/2013 08:17 EST
Every day, our daughters are bombarded with lies. Ask any parent what they want most for their kids. The fallout from these lies is all around us. We are raising a generation of girls who hate their bodies and therefore hate themselves. Chances are, they'll say "For them to be healthy and happy." A girl who hates her body is neither.
11/12/2013 12:13 EST
Last week my 12-year-old son and his friends used a term I hadn't heard before: "rape face." So we sat down to talk. He was emphatic that #rapeface wasn't actually about rape and rolled his eyes with a "mom, what's the big deal?" We need to be having these conversations with our kids and with our own peers about reclaiming words like rape if we want to start making a big deal about putting an end to rape culture.
10/21/2013 12:28 EDT
According to a recent study, nearly one-quarter of adults aged 18 to 34 said women may provoke sexual assault by being drunk and 17 per cent believe women invite assaults by wearing short skirts. These antiquated attitudes are not held by the old-fashioned or aging demographic but by younger Canadians who. Why?
07/12/2013 12:17 EDT
The most dangerous time for an abused women is when she attempts to leave her abuser. And although Canada has more than 400 emergency shelters, in some communities women and their children are regularly turned away because the shelters are full.
05/01/2013 05:18 EDT
Today, some people act as though sexism has disappeared. In fact, some seem to think women have advanced so far that feminism can be chucked into the dustbin of history.But if that were the case, why is my young niece bombarded with media images that make those beer babes look as innocent as Minnie Mouse? While artists like Lady Gaga and Beyoncé seem to present empowering messages about how "girls rule the world," in their videos they deliver that message half-naked, through pouting lips while humping the ground or spreading their legs.
02/15/2013 07:55 EST
I wasn't prepared for 67 per cent. According to a new survey released today by the Canadian Women's Foundation, that's the percentage of Canadians who personally know a woman who's been physically or sexually abused. Imagine what that number would be if the silence ended.
12/12/2012 05:41 EST
Last week, I found myself -- yet again -- explaining why it is wrong to blame women for being sexually assaulted. Since a woman can be deemed "bad" for anything from wearing a short skirt, to not covering her hair, to having an opinion of her own, the game is clearly rigged. So I don't play. I don't care what a woman wears, says, or does: she does not deserve to be sexually assaulted. Period. Let's ask the real questions.
09/20/2012 03:05 EDT
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