The survey, conducted for the Alberta Council of Women’s Shelters by Leger offered four key insights from the results:
- In general, there is a positive shift in attitudes since 2012, with opportunities to improve further,
- That education and tools are needed to help Alberta men intervene,
- That a large number of men feel that education on this issue starts at home; and
- Focusing the messages on women’s human rights and gender equality will help shift attitudes.
Adopted from a similar Australian survey¹, ACWS and Leger use a “Gender Equity Score” (GES) as a benchmark to measure attitudes. These gender equity scores have increased overall in our province since 2012 – a positive indicator of progressive change relating to gender issues.
Another positive from the survey is Alberta men’s strong response that violence and abuse against women is a concern to them (97%). They are also more likely (from 54% in 2012 to 65% in 2016) to recognize that violence against women and girls impacts the women they care about.²
One in five men report having witnessed an abusive behaviour against a woman in the past year in a social environment. Two-thirds of these men checked to see if the woman was okay or needed help, while 61% said something or challenged the man’s behaviour. Younger men are more likely to have witnessed abusive, harassing behaviour than other survey respondents³.
However, the survey also found that 61% of Alberta men found it hard to understand why women stay in an abusive relationship(4). “This statistic points to the need for greater education of: the dynamics of abuse, the multiple financial barriers women face, the implications for children and the fact that women are at high risk of being killed by a controlling abusive spouse after they leave a relationship,” commented Jan Reimer, Executive Director of the Alberta Council of Women’s Shelters. “Essentially, this puts the responsibility on survivors of violence rather the perpetrators.” “While encouraged that fewer men agree if women wear provocative clothing, they are putting themselves at risk for sexual assault”, says Deb Tomlinson, Chief Executive Officer of the Association of Alberta Sexual Assault Services. “ACWS study findings indicate that rape culture appears to be as great a concern in Alberta as it was four years ago. Until we can shift from rape culture to a culture of “We believe you”, the reporting rate of sexual assault will continue to remain at an alarming 3%. This means survivors don’t get the help they need; don’t access the criminal justice system and offenders are not held accountable for the crimes they have committed. This has serious consequences for all of us.”
“I’m excited to see this movement in the understanding of gender equality over the past few years,” says Sherrie Botten, Executive Director of Rowan House Emergency Shelter.” There is still work to be done but we are certainly moving in the right direction when it comes to men’s understanding of violence against women.”
Although there is still a lot of work to do, ACWS is encouraged to see a positive shift in the responses – especially during a tough economic climate and with the survey taking place during a high-profile sexual assault trial featuring rigorous defense tactics. We take heart that the many community partners: governments, not-for-profits and of course, hard working women’s shelters – are working together to shift these attitudes to move towards a safer, more equitable society.
1 Adapted from National Survey on Community Attitudes to Violence Against Women (University of Victoria, Australia, 2009).
2 p. 30 Leger – Men’s Attitudes and Behaviors toward Violence Against women, Provincial Results Report
3 p. 35 Leger – Men’s Attitudes and Behaviors toward Violence Against women, Provincial Results Report
4 p. 27 Leger – Men’s Attitudes and Behaviors toward Violence Against women, Provincial Results Report
Leger is the largest Canadian-owned polling, research and strategic marketing firm with over 600 employees in Montreal, Quebec City, Toronto, Edmonton and Calgary in Canada as well as Philadelphia in the United States. Founded in 1986, Leger has gained an impressive knowledge base, which provides clients access to credible and reliable data and twenty-six years of experience, all of which contribute to making Leger your strategic partner. Whether you are a business, institution, civic organization, government agency or in the media, Leger can not only take the pulse of Canadian public opinion on a wide array of subjects, but can also gauge public opinion worldwide with the help of its network of partners.
2016 Provincial Survey Results : https://www.acws.ca/alberta-mens-attitudes-about-violence-against-women-survey
The first survey was conducted by Leger in 2011 and released in 2012 at the Breakfast with the Guys in Calgary. Taking the temperature of Alberta men’s attitudes on the issue of violence against women
allows governments and the gender violence prevention and intervention sector to target resources and messaging.
March 8th is International Woman’s Day.