Barriers to Leaving

The following are some barriers to leaving:

  • limited access to information (e.g. legal rights) and support services (e.g. transition houses, crisis centres) for women in isolated and  minority communities
  • lack of transportation services
  • loss of kinship ties, support network, cultural community, and sense of identity
  • strong community loyalities and distrust of other systems

If services are accessible, women often face other barriers and concerns, including:

  • fear of being misunderstood by support staff
  • lack of resources for treatment or support
  • feeling that services are not suited to their culture
  • misunderstanding and/or fear of the justice system and law enforcement officials
  • lack of anonymity in seeking services on reserves, which are usually very small communities
  • reluctance to involve a justice system that is seen as racist
     

Aboriginal Communities

Although woman abuse occurs in all cultural, racial, and religious groups, women in Aboriginal communities face a number of additional difficulties when they want to get support or leave an abusive situation.

Women who must leave their community often experience the distress of having to abandon their support systems, kinship, and cultural roots. 

Although woman abuse occurs in all cultural, racial, and religious groups, women in Aboriginal communities face a number of additional difficulties when they want to get support or leave an abusive situation.

Women who must leave their community often experience the distress of having to abandon their support systems, kinship, and cultural roots. 
 

African Nova Scotian Communities

Women experiencing abuse in African Nova Scotian communities also face additional challenges and barriers to leaving their home and getting help. They may face the prospect of leaving kinship, social support networks, and their own communities.

This may be more difficult if they live in isolated communities and have limited transportation services.

Some issues African Nova Scotian women face when leaving an abusive relationship may include:
•     Historical oppression, discrimination, and unequal treatment have resulted in mistrust and fear of justice and social    service systems and reluctance to turn to these agencies for help.

•     The extended family is highly valued in African Canadian communities, so many women feel pressured to keep silent about abuse or downplay its severity because of kinship. 

•     Reporting abuse may be seen as betraying partner and furthering stereotypes of African Canadian men.

•     Concerns that their partner may be subjected to racism makes it even more difficult for women to report their abuser.

•     Fear of being shut out or blamed by the community often leads to silence about abuse.

•     It is important for African Nova Scotian women to secure support from members, especially other women, from their own communities.


Women with Disabilities

Women with disabilities are often more vulnerable to abuse and face additional barriers. Society’s negative images and myths about women with disabilities increase the risk of abuse.
 

What may make women with disabilities more vulnerable to abuse?

• The disability often gets used as the basis for the inequity in the relationship.

• Destruction of property can often be more dangerous if an assistive device or a helping dog is harmed.

• They may not have access to support services.

• Women who have difficulty walking, understanding, hearing, or speaking may be unable to flee, get help, or report their abuse or may not be believed when they do.

• They are often not considered to be capable parents if parenting support is needed.

• Some women may not be aware they are experiencing abuse.

• The abuser may have blamed them for their illness or disability or have told them they are making it up or seeking attention.

• They may have been made to feel worthless by the abuser.

 

For more information, see Making Changes, 9th edition