Thirty years ago today, in 1989, fourteen women were murdered in a senseless and brutal attack at Polytechnique Montréal, and December 6th was thenceforth declared a day for remembrance and action against such violence.
Below, you will find a list of resources and information for those who may be in need of help, would like to support someone in need of help, or would simply like to be better informed on what to do and how to conduct themselves in the face of violence, misogyny, and discrimination. Due to the themes and subject matters within, the listed titles may contain content some readers might find triggering. Please explore with your own well-being in mind.
We hope that with this blog post, we at the Vaughan Public Libraries can offer support, education, and assistance to all those who come to us.
1) Assaulted Women’s Helpline – Domestic violence crisis hotline
- Phone: 1-866-863-0511
- TTY: 1-866-863-7868
- Text: #SAFE (#7233) on your Bell, Rogers, Fido or Telus mobile phone
- This is a free confidential helpline open 24/7. It can help you find a local shelter and/or domestic violence services in your area.
2) Fem’aide French-Language Hotline – Only available in French, domestic violence crisis hotline
- Phone: 1-877-336-2433
- TTY: 1-866-860-7082
- Confidential information to help Francophone women find a shelter and/or domestic violence services.
3) Talk4Healing Aboriginal Women’s Helpline – Domestic violence crisis hotline
- Phone: 1-855-554-4325
- Free, confidential, 24/7 service providing culturally sensitive crisis counselling, advice, support and referrals for Aboriginal women living in Northern Ontario. Services are provided in English and 14 languages.
4) Victim Services Directory – Domestic violence shelters (emergency and second stage)
- To find shelters and domestic violence services in your area, enter your location and select ‘Domestic Violence’ under the service category.
5) Sheltersafe.ca – Domestic violence shelters (emergency and second stage)
- Second-stage houses provide short-term, safe, affordable, supportive and independent housing. Find second stage housing in your area.
6) Under Assaulted Women Helpline – Senior Safety Line
- Toll-free: 1-866-299-1011
- Provides services for racialized survivors of sexual assault.
7) Women’s Support Network of York Region – Sexual assault services
- Toll-free: 1-800-263-6734
- Phone: 1-905-895-7313
- Hospital accompaniment. Legal services. Counselling services. Provides services for racialized survivors of sexual assault.
8) Mental Health Crisis Line – Mental health crisis supports
- Toll-free: 1-866-996-0991
- Phone: 1-613-722-6914
- A 24/7 helpline to assist people experiencing a mental health problem or crisis.
9) Additional support services for those affected by gender-based violence
- A government of Canada resource database
- Can be filtered by category of service and area
- See also this list of crisis lines for those affected by gender-based violence
10) Ontario Ministry of Children, Community and Social Services
The Big Bad Wolf in My House by Valérie Fontaine
Available as an ebook on Hoopla, this junior picture book features a young girl who tells us that her mom’s new friend is just like the big bad wolf. At first the wolf is sweet and kind to her mom, though the girl notices the wolf’s cold eyes from the very beginning.
How will she and her mom cope as the wolf becomes increasingly fierce?
Hands Are Not for Hitting by Martine Agassi
Also available in French, this book invites even the youngest children to use their hands for fun and caring actions and to understand that hitting is never okay. Includes helpful tips for parents and caregivers.
Forever, or a Long, Long Time by Caela Carter
Flora and her brother, Julian, don’t believe they were born. They’ve lived in so many foster homes, they can’t remember where they came from. And even now that they’ve been adopted, Flora still struggles to believe that they’ve found their forever home.
So along with their new mother, Flora and Julian begin a journey to go back and discover their past—for only then can they really begin to build their future.
Riverland by Fran Wilde
Available as an ebook on Hoopla, Riverland features sisters Eleanor and Mike, who hide in a secret place under Eleanor’s bed when things go bad at home, telling monster stories. Often, it seems those stories and their mother’s house magic are all that keep them safe from both busybodies and their dad’s temper.
Full of both adventure and heart, Riverland is a story about the bond between two sisters and how they must make their own magic to protect each other and save the ones they love.
Ruby on the Outside by Nora Raleigh Baskin
Eleven-year-old Ruby Danes is about to start middle school, and only her aunt knows her deepest, darkest, secret: her mother is in prison.
Then Margalit Tipps moves into Ruby’s condo complex, and the two immediately hit it off. Ruby thinks she’s found her first true-blue friend–but can she tell Margalit the truth about her mom? Maybe not. Because it turns out that Margalit’s family history seems closely connected to the very event that put her mother in prison, and if Ruby comes clean, she could lose everything she cares about most.
Queen of the Godforsaken by Mix Hart
Lydia Buckingham is an ice queen. She wasn’t always that way, but after her parents uprooted the family to move to an isolated and rundown farmhouse in the middle of nowhere, she has been forced to adapt this personality in order to survive in rural Saskatchewan.
Her parents are constantly fighting, drinking, and abandoning Lydia and her younger sister Victoria for days on end. Soon the sisters have had enough, and they decide to set out alone into the brutal Saskatchewan winter.
Saving Grad by Karen Spafford-Fitz
Vienna is a mixed-Métis teen whose mother has moved in with a man who turns out to be racist and violent. Vienna and her mother decide to end the situation by moving to a new city.
When her step-father unexpectedly shows up at Vienna’s grad party, threatening Vienna and two of her schoolmates, Vienna finds the strength to keep herself, her friends and her mother out of harm’s way.
Fight Like a Girl by Sheena Kamal
Love and violence. In some families they’re bound up together, dysfunctional and poisonous, passed from generation to generation like eye color or a quirk of smile. Trisha’s trying to break the chain, channeling her violent impulses into Muay Thai kickboxing, an unlikely sport for a slightly built girl of Trinidadian descent.
Then her abusive father is killed, and her mother seems strangely at peace. Lighter, somehow. Trisha doesn’t know exactly what happened that night, but she’s afraid it’s going to happen again. Her mom has a new man in her life and the patterns, they are repeating.
Vox by Christina Dalcher
On the day the government decrees that women are no longer allowed more than one hundred words per day, Dr. Jean McClellan is in denial. This can’t happen here. Not in America. Not to her. Soon women are not permitted to hold jobs. Girls are not taught to read or write.
Females no longer have a voice. Before, the average person spoke sixteen thousand words each day, but now women have only one hundred to make themselves heard. For herself, her daughter, and every woman silenced, Jean will reclaim her voice.
The Last Housewife by Ashley Winstead
While in college in upstate New York, Shay Evans and her best friends met a captivating man who seduced them with a web of lies about the way the world works, bringing them under his thrall. By senior year, Shay and her friend Laurel were the only ones who managed to escape. Now, eight years later, Shay’s built a new life in a tony Texas suburb. But when she hears the horrifying news of Laurel’s death, she begins to suspect that the past she thought she buried is still very much alive, and the predators more dangerous than ever.
In a world built for men to rule it—both inside the cult and outside of it—is justice even possible, and if so, how far will Shay go to get it?
Becoming Unbecoming by Una
This extraordinary graphic novel is a powerful denunciation of sexual violence against women. As seen through the eyes of a twelve-year-old girl named Una, it takes place in northern England in 1977, as the Yorkshire Ripper, a serial killer of prostitutes, is on the loose and creating panic among the townspeople.
A once self-confident Una teaches herself to “lower her gaze” in order to deflect attention from boys, but after she is “slut-shamed” at school for having birth control pills, Una herself is the subject of violent acts for which she comes to blame herself. But as the police finally catch up with and identify the killer, Una grapples with the patterns of behaviour that led her to believe she was to blame.
No Visible Bruises: What We Don’t Know About Domestic Violence Can Kill Us by Rachel Louise Snyder
Journalist Rachel Louise Snyder frames this urgent and immersive account of the scale of domestic violence in our country around key stories that explode the common myths: That if things were bad enough, victims would just leave; that a violent person cannot become nonviolent; that shelter is an adequate response; that violence inside the home is separate from other forms of violence like mass shootings, gang violence, and sexual assault.
Through the stories of victims, perpetrators, law enforcement, and reform movements from across the country, Snyder explores not only the dark corners of private violence, but also its far-reaching consequences for society, and what it will take to truly address it.
Keetsahnak: Our Missing and Murdered Indigenous Sisters by Kim Anderson, Maria Campbell, Christi Belcourt
In Keetsahnak: Our Missing and Murdered Indigenous Sisters, the tension between personal, political, and public action is brought home starkly. This important collective volume both witnesses the significance of the travelling exhibition Walking With Our Sisters and creates a model for antiviolence work from an Indigenous perspective.
The contributors look at the roots of violence and how it diminishes life for all. They acknowledge the destruction wrought by colonial violence, and also look at controversial topics such as lateral violence, challenges in working with “tradition,” and problematic notions involved in “helping.”
Asking for It: the Alarming Rise of Rape Culture—and What We Can Do About It by Kate Harding
Available as an audiobook on Hoopla, Asking For It makes the case that twenty-first-century America—where it’s estimated that out of every 100 rapes only 5 result in felony convictions—supports rapists more effectively than victims. Harding offers ideas and suggestions for how we, as a culture, can take rape much more seriously without compromising the rights of the accused.
The Man They Wanted Me to Be: Toxic Masculinity and a Crisis of Our Own Making by James Yates Sexton
Deeply personal and thoroughly researched, The Man They Wanted Me to Be examines how we teach boys what’s expected of men in America, and the long term effects of that socialization—which include depression, suicide, misogyny, and, ultimately, shorter lives. Sexton turns his keen eye to the establishment of the racist patriarchal structure which has favored white men, and investigates the personal and societal dangers of such outdated definitions of manhood.
I hope this has been a helpful assortment of recommended reads and resources. Though by no means exhaustive, this post is meant to serve as a launching-off point and a conversation starter with each other and ourselves on why gender-based violence is perpetrated, how to address it, what can be done to help victims of violence, and the toxic mindsets that may lead to or conceal such violence.