Government of Canada Announces Support for Survivors of Family Violence

News Release

The Shape Your Life boxing program will help improve physical and mental health of survivors of family violence

November 25, 2016 - Toronto, Ontario - Public Health Agency of Canada

Approximately one in three women in Canada experience partner violence. Recognizing this as a serious health issue, the Government of Canada remains committed to ending family violence and all forms of gender-based violence.

Today, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Health, Kamal Khera, and the President of Brock University, Tom Traves, announced support for Shape Your Life, a trauma-informed boxing program to help improve the mental and physical health of female and trans survivors of family violence. This announcement marks the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, and the start of 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence in Canada.

Shape Your Life is based on a ‘trauma-informed’ approach to public health, which creates an environment of safety, control and respect, and avoids re-traumatizing, shaming or stigmatizing survivors. This program will be offered at the Toronto Newsgirls Boxing Club. Brock University researcher Cathy van Ingen, a national leader in trauma-informed research, is the driving force behind this important and innovative program.

Family violence has immediate and long-lasting health and social consequences for individuals, families, communities and society. It can range from physical abuse to emotional abuse and neglect, and can lead to health issues such as depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress injuries, chronic illnesses and even a shorter life expectancy. Public health interventions can play a role in preventing and responding to family violence by supporting healthy relationships and promoting the health of survivors.

Quick facts

  • One third of Canadian adults experienced physical or sexual abuse before age 15. Family violence represents more than one quarter of violent crime reported to police.
  • Women and girls, people with disabilities, and people who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans or questioning are at an increased risk of experiencing family violence and its impacts.
  • Women are more likely than men to experience more severe and chronic forms of family violence, and to sustain more serious health impacts.
  • The Public Health Agency of Canada is providing more than $420,000 for Shape Your Life. The Agency invests up to $7 million a year to deliver and test innovative projects to improve the health of survivors of family violence.


“Brock University’s Shape Your Life program at the Toronto Newsgirls Boxing Club is an excellent example of an innovative way to help survivors of violence heal from the trauma they experienced. By providing a supportive, inclusive and safe environment, this specialized boxing program is helping women to regain physical and mental well-being.
Jane Philpott
Minister of Health

“The Government of Canada is committed to gender equality and to ensuring women and girls can reach their full potential.  Gender-based violence remains a major barrier to achieving these goals.  Throughout the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence I urge all Canadians to take a stand against gender-based violence. It’s time to reflect on what we can all do to make Canada safer, more inclusive and supportive for everyone.”
Patty Hajdu
Minister of Status of Women

“All forms of family violence are unacceptable. This program helps bring attention to the serious impacts of gender and family violence by helping female and trans survivors get the support they need to improve their health.”
Kamal Khera
Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Health

“Visiting the Toronto Newsgirls Boxing Club in June this year was inspiring. It reaffirmed my decision to make family violence the focus of my annual report, which was released in October, and strengthened my personal commitment to ending all forms of violence. I am empowered by the knowledge of what this program is achieving:  support for female and trans survivors of violence in a healthy and safe place, while adding to the evidence base about innovative health promotion approaches.”
Dr. Gregory Taylor
Canada’s Chief Public Health Office

“We are pleased that the Government of Canada is supporting this extremely important program helping women deal with trauma. Brock is particularly proud of how professor Cathy van Ingen’s research has been such a catalyst in Shape Your Life.”
Tom Traves
Brock University President

Related Links


Andrew MacKendrick
Office of Jane Philpott
Minister of Health

Media Relations
Public Health Agency of Canada

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