New Brunswick

Vulnerable women who've faced violence given voice through project

Saint John is participating in a national project that aims to give a voice to vulnerable women who have experienced violence.

Project aims to unite women who are refugees, Indigenous, have mental health issues or intellectual disability

female refugees, indigenous women, women with mental health issues and intellectual disabilities have highest rates of violence against them. (CBC)

Saint John is participating in a national project that aims to give a voice to vulnerable women who have experienced violence.

The Institute for Research and Development on Inclusion and Society (IRIS) is behind the series of town halls, workshops, and working groups being hosted in Saint John, Regina, Vancouver, and Toronto.

It's a project that aims to unite female refugees, indigenous women, women with mental health issues and intellectual disabilities.

These groups, according to IRIS director of social development Doris Rajan, have a much higher rate of violence than other women.  

In their years of anti-violence work, Rajan said, "What we've found is that refugees, indigenous women, and women with mental health issues and intellectual challenges appear to be left out of the conversation, even though these groups of women have some of the highest rates of violence in the country."

"It seemed like there needed to be a targeted focus," Rajan said.

Not only are these groups more likely to experience violence, but they also have the most difficulty finding help and support, she said.

Violence part of culture

"The biggest thing is the systemic violence that's sort of entrenched or embedded in the different systems," said Rajan.

"Intimate partner abuse does obviously exist with these communities, but violence looks a lot different," said Rajan.

"The perpetrators are different, and the origins of violence are different," said Rahan, offering as an example women with intellectual disabilities who are abused by a caregiver or residential care worker, as opposed to a husband or domestic partner.

"It really needs a different sort of intervention," she said.

Rajan said the Saint John Human Development Council and the New Brunswick Association for Community Living have been instrumental in bringing the project to Saint John.

"This project is exciting because it gets advocates, activists that work with these groups, and women with lived experience together," said Rajan.

"It connects them so that they can hear the stories and learn ways that they can better serve these populations."

More information about IRIS's work in Saint John is available by contacting the Saint John Human Development Council.

With files from Information Morning Saint John

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