Most Alberta men would stand up against domestic violence, survey finds

Men fail to understand why women stay in abusive relationships, results show

Original Article: Josee St-Onge · CBC News · Posted: February 21, 2019

Nine out of 10 Alberta men who took part in a survey commissioned by the Alberta Council of Women's Shelters said they would likely intervene if they knew a victim of domestic violence.

"We're seeing a positive movement in most areas," said executive director Jan Reimer Thursday. "But there's also lots of work to do."

The study surveyed 1,454 Alberta men on gender equity and violence against women. Similar surveys were conducted in 2012 and 2016.

The survey found one in five respondents witnessed a man abusing or harassing a woman in public in the past year. 

Of those men, 68 per cent said they checked on the victim to see if she needed help. Around half of them said they challenged the harasser's behaviour. 

Those numbers could be higher if people were taught how to address those situations, said Australian researcher Michael Flood.

"Give men and women the tools to speak up when someone makes a joke about sexual assault, when someone blames the victim for the abuse she suffered," said Flood, who spoke at Leading Change Summit hosted by the council of women's shelters.

But the survey also found half of the men believe women could leave a violent relationship if they really wanted to, a common misconception about domestic violence, Reimer said. 

"It's disappointing," she said. 

Women often stay in abusive relationships because they fear for their and their children's safety if they were to leave, Reimer said.

"The most dangerous time for a woman, and the greatest likelihood of her being killed, is when she says she's going to leave, or after she has left that relationship."

The results also show more education is needed to help men understand what constitutes domestic violence, Reimer said. 

Only 23 per cent of men agreed that yelling at a partner was a form of violence, the same number as in 2016.

Information campaigns launched by the federal government have made a difference in his native Australia, Flood said. 

"One key thing we need to do is broaden men's, and indeed women's, understanding of what kind of behaviours cause harm in relationships."