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Women of Affluence – Research Release

In 2016, Sagesse identified a gap in services and supports for affluent women who are experiencing domestic violence (DV). This gap is not unique to Calgary; upscale violence is often overlooked by service providers and researchers in other jurisdictions as well. The experiences of affluent survivors are rarely studied or acknowledged in the DV literature, and service providers often fail to see the vulnerability of this population because they are not accustomed to associating risk or helplessness with privileged populations. While upscale violence shares many characteristics with DV among less affluent populations, some barriers, circumstances and cultural influences are unique to affluent women. Because these factors can have a powerful impact on the needs and help-seeking behaviors of affluent survivors, they must be considered in the design and delivery of DV services and supports.

“Although women of affluence experience domestic violence at the same rates as the rest of the population, this population is rarely studied, and few services exist to meet the needs of survivors with higher socioeconomic status”.

-Andrea Silverstone, Executive Director Sagesse

One of the ways in which violence in affluent communities distinguishes itself is the level of sophistication. Because affluent perpetrators have higher levels of power, resources and education on which to draw, their weapons can be all the more subtle and powerful.

“We need to recognize the culture of affluence as a distinct culture, and understand the ways in which it impacts disclosure, help-seeking, and the capacity to escape a violent relationship for women of affluence who are experiencing domestic violence. We need to let women of affluence know that domestic violence does happen to women like them and they are not alone”.

-Andrea Silverstone, Executive Director Sagesse

The Culture of Affluence:

The culture of affluence refers to the set of explicit and implicit beliefs and values in affluent communities that affect the ways in which children are socialized and family and community members interact as well as how society views affluence.

Challenges and Barriers specific to Affluent Violence:

Key challenges that affluent survivors are likely to face, including challenges related to:

  • Cognitive dissonance (e.g., that a highly capable woman could have married an abusive man, or that domestic violence doesn’t happen to ‘people like us’)
  • Not being believed because of the status of the abuser
  • Cultural norms and values related to discretion and keeping up appearances
  • Risks to one’s career or lifestyle
  • Issues related to eligibility criteria (i.e., the survivor has no access to financial resources but because she has money on paper, she is not eligible for low- or no-cost services)
  • Risks associated with lack of empathy, discrimination and misguided assumptions on the part of service providers

All of these findings have significant implications for the domestic violence sector in Calgary, suggesting the need for specialized outreach, training and capacity building (within and beyond the domestic violence sector), awareness raising campaigns, and advocacy.

Moving Forward:

Sagesse is committed to implementing a new program to address the specific issues and barriers women of affluence face when disclosing or seeking help for the abuse they suffer. We will also develop training for service providers and communities to empower them to appropriately address domestic violence within the context of the culture of affluence.

To read the full report, please click here

 

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Sexual Violence Prevention Month

May has been officially proclaimed as Sexual Violence Prevention Month by the Government of Alberta. The Commitment to Preventing and Addressing Sexual Violence helps to remove the stigma attached with sexual violence and supports building momentum for addressing this issue. Sagesse is committed to being a part of collective efforts across Alberta that address sexual and domestic violence and working towards making Alberta safer for everyone.

#Didyouknow many victims of sexual violence are in an intimate relationship with their abuser? Sexual violence and domestic violence exist within the scope of oppression. It is how a perpetrator abuses power and control over a victim. A perpetrator can use a variety of violent and non-violent methods to take away a victim’s agency. These may include: violence, intimidation, emotional abuse, controlling money, making the victim feel like they are “crazy”, and sexual assault. Sexual violence is another form of controlling and taking away a person’s agency. Although some domestic violence victims have outward signs of abuse, many suffer abuse in other ways.

We know that disclosures of sexual violence are often hidden within the context of domestic violence due to fear and the stigma attached. Oftentimes, our society does not believe that an individual can be a victim of sexual violence by their spouse or partner. As long as we continue this narrative and do not acknowledge the sexual violence between partners, we dismiss a huge portion of survivors. The link between sexual violence and domestic violence in undeniable.

Recently, Andrea Silverstone, Executive Director at Sagesse sat down with Deb Tomlinson, Chief Executive Officer at the Association of Alberta Sexual Assault Services to discuss the intersection between domestic violence and sexual violence and how we as agencies can better work together moving forward. Take a look:

 

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Andrea Silverstone on Global Calgary

Andrea Silverstone our Executive Director was on Global Calgary this weekend discussing the prevalence of domestic violence in Calgary, what Sagesse is doing to prevent and end domestic abuse and how people in abusive relationships can get help.

https://globalnews.ca/video/4160030/breaking-the-cycle-of-domestic-violence

 

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Family Violence Prevention Month

November in Alberta marks Family Violence Prevention Month.  All across the province individuals, organizations and communities are using this month as an opportunity to draw awareness to the issue of domestic violence and the role that we all can have in preventing it.  As part of our #ABFVPM activities Sagesse is hosting our 6th Annual Eat Play Love event. Eat Play Love is all about pampering and indulgence – while raising funds for Sagesse’s programs and services that empower people, organizations and communities to break the cycle of domestic violence.

Eat Play Love offers the opportunity to pamper yourself with two mini-spa services of your choice.  Amanda Bach RMT had this to say about her involvement with Eat Play Love:

“As a Registered Massage Therapist, I firmly believe that creating a safe space for awareness and allowing healing to happen can have substantially positive effects.  I am honored to contribute my skills alongside a group that is taking real action to end domestic violence. 

The support system that is created within Sagesse astounds me and I’m looking forward to this year’s Eat Play Love event. I always leave feeling empowered, respected and supported.”

Tickets are going fast, click here to purchase!

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