Healing Gaia

OAITH and Yellow Brick House Launch 'The Window Project'

This new campaign in Toronto will raise public awareness and generate funds for women and families impacted by domestic violence in Canada.

By Doreen Nicoll
Published December 07, 2015

It's Christmas! A time to walk around the neighbourhood and admire houses and trees all decked out for the season. In our neighbourhood many people place their trees front and center in the main window leaving the curtains open for all to see. It's great to get home, light up our own tree and warm up with cocoa and cookies.

But this holiday I'm going to ask you to make a special trip to Queen Street West (Toronto) to see a window with a very different view of Christmas. Unfortunately, the scene that plays out will be all too common across Canada this holiday season.

The Ontario Association of Interval and Transition Houses (OAITH), Yellow Brick House shelter in York region, and FCB Toronto joined together to raise awareness about the increased stress and fear women in abusive relationships live with over the holidays. From December 6 until December 13, "The Window Project" at Untitled & Co. Store (483 Queen Street West, Toronto) will raise public awareness and generate funds for women and families impacted by domestic violence in Canada.

The United Nations has found that one in three women worldwide are victims of domestic violence during their lifetime. Numerous studies have found that domestic violence against women surges during the holiday season, sometimes by as much as 30 percent.

An estimated 362,000 Canadian children witness or experience family violence each year. Domestic violence is more common in homes with young children. Children witnessing this violence are at immediate risk of being physically injured. Research has shown that a child witnessing family violence is as harmful as experiencing it directly. This is a form of child abuse.

At first glance, holiday shoppers will think they stumbled across a festive window. However, a closer look reveals a scene where a woman and her family are the victims of domestic violence. Viewers are empowered to stop the violence by making a $5 text donation to OAITH. This action immediately stops the abuse for 60 seconds. By raising awareness, engaging bystanders, and making them part of the solution, the program's vision is to end domestic violence for good.

"The holidays can be a confusing time for women in abusive relationships, especially when there are children involved," said Charlene Catchpole, chair of the OAITH board of directors. "Many women put on a good face and project an image of stability to keep the holidays a happy time. Our hope is that this campaign will break the lingering culture of silence that exists around violence against women."

Statistics Canada (2013) reports that 8 in 10 victims of intimate partner violence are female. According to Yellow Brick House, transitional shelters average a 30 percent increase in calls for support during the holidays.

"This effort gives every person the opportunity to personally witness the power one donation can make," said FCB Toronto Chief Creative Officer Jon Flannery. "While this is only one initiative in the fight against domestic abuse, this effort makes every person a part of the solution."

The display launched on December 6 to coincide with the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence against Women in Canada which marks the 26th anniversary of the murders of 14 young women at Ecole Polytechnique. "The Window Project" remembers these women with 14 roses placed in the scene.

Chloe Sam-Mcgrath, design director and co-owner of Untitled & Co, said the immediacy of impacting change was a key draw for her participation. "This groundbreaking initiative makes the issue impossible to ignore," said Sam-Mcgrath. "If one woman is helped by this effort, it worked."

Can't make it to Queen Street West? Take a peek in The Window, make a donation, and take a stand to end domestic violence.

To learn more about the project to help stop violence against women, please visit OAITH.ca/thewindowproject.

To make a $5 donation, please text "No More" to 45678 through your mobile provider. The donation will appear on your next phone bill.

If you are a woman experiencing abuse remember that you are not alone, you are not to blame, and help is a phone call or click away:

For more information on violence against women and the role you can play in ending it:

Doreen Nicoll is a feminist and a member of several community organizations working diligently to end poverty, hunger and gendered violence.

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