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Report on Healing Journeys Conference 2016

Second Annual Healing Journeys Conference
October 20-21, 2016

The Healing Journeys Conference was a huge success. This is the only Conference in Toronto that focuses on all aspects of men and trauma. Since this was our second annual event I was particularly pleased that we experienced a growth in attendance (about 60 people over the course of the day, as compared to under 40 last year) as well as a much more comprehensive treatment of men and trauma. This year we did a better job covering both sexual violence and domestic abuse, as well as including a deeper focus on the intersection of trauma and mental health.

I want to thank our amazing sponsors. Our Silver Level sponsor Gene C. Colman Family Law Centre and our Bronze level sponsors Rochelle Cantor Law and our own member Vijay Rajan. My gratitude also to all our speakers and to our volunteers for making the day a success. I am so pleased at how the CCMF has come together with 3 other amazing agencies – Lynne MacDonell and Associates, the Canadian Centre for Abuse Awareness and The Gatehouse – to make these unique events a reality!

Here are my notes from the sessions, for those who may be interested in this level of detail:

Helping Men Panel
how to get men to engage in help seeking behaviour?
what works and what doesn’t?
Dustin – 70% of those who survive a suicide attempt will not attempt again
Rob – frame men’s recovery as building skills – skills based on goal -oriented targets cause men are project oriented and problem solving
80% of social workers are women, staff at distress centre mostly women
Adam – when you’re in distress you don’t know what to focus on, men cut themselves off from reading their own bodies, interplay of the mind and body is key
Have whole class stand up and do stretching when anyone is in distress
Dustin recommends Columbia Suicide Severity Rating Assessment Scale

Simona Jellinek
helping survivors proceed through legal process as easily as possible
50% of calls from people who never went to therapist first – maybe because its more formal or less personal to talk to a lawyer
It is a journey
max compensation is $25K for pain and suffering, $10K/year for loss of income (criminal injuries compensation board)
you need to have been employed at the time and had to leave to get loss of income pay
childhood abuse sometimes they pay for loss but rare
Another option is lawsuit – orgs can be sued – this can give power back to the victim
eg. CAS (for abuse foster parents), religious institutions, children’s orgs eg. Scouts, Big Brother/Big Sisters, School boards, other orgs or gov institutions, hospitals eg. nurses who abuse
2 things need to be proved – somebody did it (helps if there is a criminal conviction) and the person was hurt
Recommends psychological assessments – helps court understand how abuse changed person’s life

Agencies panel
Michelle – LAO identified gaps in how DV clients were being treated and how their services would effect clients at home
traditionally 7-8% of victims men now last 6 months up to 17-18%
they are doing screening for men and women – 2 hour family violence program

Tracy Clarke, Victim Witness Assistance Program
they support “vulnerable victims”, their program started with DV victims only but is now broader
once someone claims to be a victim other party will not be provided support – what happens in case of mutual violence?
VMAP – does not assist falsely accused

Survivors of sexual abuse panel
survivors try to reenact the situation to try to control the outcome, but it only causes more pain
the group experience allows me to work backwards merely by listening to other guy’s stories
we may be on a different place on the arc of healing
the severity and longevity of the abuse isn’t as important as how it effects you

Yvonne Bergmans
the role of trauma in thoughts of suicide and self injury
trauma-informed – research by Tara Brach, 2011
emotions are based on our own unique history, experiences, biology
trauma – overwhelm a person’s ability to cope and/or integrate emotions and ideas related to that experience
now as its acknowledged witnessing violence can be as bad as experiencing it directly
developmental – child abuse and neglect, witnessing violence in the home
child protection services are quite new
what magnifies trauma – when “helpers” are insensitive in ways that add shame or blame, being told you asked for it, ignored bruising, not being believed, denying coping mechanisms
eg. self harm not recognized as such
effects include depression and anxiety
particularly for men – depression and anxiety might come out in agitation, anger, being prickly
anger like an umbrella – protective but also can be a weapon or used to hide pain or hurt
predictability and safety not always the same
men often socialized not to ask for help and some of that is really hurting our men in a big way
distinction between non suicidal self injury and behaviour that is intended to kill you
need to ask what is the behaviour for – to keep safer, to show others how badly you hurt, to practice for actually committing suicide, to get high on drugs to make suicide easier later
“we can’t know what we don’t know”
“help I’m experiencing too much joy. what do I do with it?” – no emotion is good or bad but they may be less comfortable
a lot of people don’t have the language of how to ask for help – help people to help you, you need to give people direction, eg. asking hospital for help to deescalate instead of saying you want to commit suicide
write a letter while not in distress to present to hospital when you arrive in ER – it’s harder to find the words when you’re in crises

Men’s Services Come to Cabbagetown

On Saturday and Sunday the Canadian Centre for Men and Families tabled for the first time at the Cabbagetown Street Festival which takes place along Parliament Street in Toronto. This was a great experience and a terrific opportunity to raise awareness in our own neighborhood of the services being offered at the Centre.

We met a lot of people for whom our work seemed to resonate, whether men’s health, family court issues or boys problems with schools. I was particularly impressed by the number of women who visited our booth.

Two particular stories stand out. The first was a mother who was looking for legal help for her son who is struggling to get access to his daughter. The second was a young woman who said she had two male friends that find it difficult to get help for mental health issues.

A special thanks to all our volunteers for making this weekend possible!

CAFE First Men’s Charity Authorized to Grant Legal Aid Certificates to Domestic Violence Victims

This is a game changer for male victims of domestic violence.

With your support, we just became the first men’s charity authorized to provide legal aid certificates to domestic violence victims

Legal Aid Ontario (LAO) has a long-running program to supply victims of domestic violence special certificates granting access to lawyers paid for by the legal aid system. This is meant to offer a quick way to assist victims in an emergency situation. Women’s groups and legal clinics have been assigned to manage many of these opportunities.

Last summer, CAFE became aware of a Long Term Strategy for Domestic Violence being developed by LAO. We initiated what turned into an extensive involvement with that strategy. As CAFE became better understood we were invited to a special meeting set aside to discuss male victims of abuse.

As the culmination of these efforts, we are excited to announce that CAFE has just been authorized to provide special legal aid certificates. This is the first time a charity focused on the health and well-being of boys and men has been empowered to support families in this way.

We want to thank LAO for this tangible and formal recognition of male victims of domestic violence and for their partnership with us in ensuring that all families are supported in times of emergency.

As members and donors you are responsible for this remarkable development.

Now let’s take full advantage of this opportunity by getting more men registered with the legal services and the domestic abuse support group that are now meeting weekly at the Canadian Centre for Men and Families.

Make a tax-deductible donation today and we’ll use those funds to promote our services.
That means more men and families will get access to free government sponsored legal aid.

Men’s Health Services at Dundas West Fest

by Scott, a dedicated Canadian Centre for Men and Families volunteer

I was proud to volunteer to help represent the Canadian Centre for Men and Families at the Dundas street festival this month. I reached out to some men who will find CCMF quite helpful, especially one trauma survivor who happened to be walking by. This is a great facility that provides support services for men and boys. While there are a lot of services available for women, and that’s amazing, there is an unfortunate gap in available services for men and boys that CCMF helps to fill.

Some of these services include support for male survivors of trauma or abuse, free counselling for men on a variety of issues, fathering issues, discussions surrounding gender equality issues, employment services, legal support, meditation classes, and many more. Check the website for more information.

This place helped me get over my own traumatic experiences, and I’d highly recommend it to any other man who could use its services.

Just as I am an ally of feminism, I am a supporter of men’s issues, and so can you be too.

Kirija Balachandran Appointed Summer Intern

Introducing Kirija Balachandran, Our Client Manager and Summer Intern

I would like to thank you all for the warm welcome and take this as an opportunity to introduce myself. I am currently working towards my Social Service Worker Diploma at Seneca College. I also have a degree from York University majoring in Law & Society and Psychology and this led me in the direction of working to ignite social change.

A social issue which I am very involved and passionate about is domestic violence and trauma. I am a volunteer with Victim Services of Peel. From this role I was able to see the effect that it has on victims and their families. My education and training has touched on men in domestic violence situations but I have never had first-hand experience with it thus far. I was pleased to learn that there is a centre dedicated to men’s needs so that men can access resources without feeling judged.

This safe space that men can reach out to for support seems like a good starting point for me to gain insight into men`s experiences and I hope that I am able to contribute in such a way that I can help build on the already well-established program for domestic abuse, violence and trauma for men.

I am also keenly interested in growing our programs for separated fathers. It is vital that children benefit from active and healthy relationships with fathers and other male role models.

My interest in the CCMF stems from the fact that it is the first of its kind and I think that gender equality is of utmost importance in our constantly growing and changing society. I hope that I can be a part of the change that is happening here and look forward to working with you all.

Thank you,
Kirija Balachandran