Introduction: Breaking the Links between poverty and violence against women: A resource guide


Poverty and violence are unfortunate and daily realities in the lives of many thousands of women across Canada. Violence against women knows no geographical or cultural boundaries and it affects all women regardless of their level of income. However, for many women, poverty adds another dimension to the pain and suffering they experience as a result of being abused. Poverty limits choices and access to the means to protect and free oneself from violence. It also means more barriers to using services and programs that can help.

The purpose of Breaking the Links Between Poverty and Violence Against Women: A Resource Guide is to support the efforts of women's groups, community organizations and service agencies to support low-income women to take control of and deal with the poverty and violence in their lives. A secondary goal is to inspire community-based groups to take action on poverty and violence issues by providing practical examples of what others are doing.

Although other resources have partially addressed the needs of low-income women, this document is devoted to exploring the ways in which poverty and violence are linked, what this means for women and for the groups that are trying to help. Violence keeps women in conditions of poverty, and poverty, or fear of poverty, keeps women trapped in violent situations.

Breaking the Links explores strategies and initiatives of groups actively working with women on violence and poverty issues. It highlights ways that services and programs can be adapted to meet the needs of low-income women. It also includes fact sheets on poverty and violence to use as educational tools. And finally, it presents a list of recommended resources with information on how to order them, if you wish to further explore these issues.

The authors have tried to ensure that the Guide reflects the diversity of women's experiences of poverty and violence in Canada, and celebrates the energy and resources that low-income women bring to bear in just surviving, in making changes in their lives and in challenging the inequities that affect them. The authors have drawn on testimony and information presented in a range of other publications to reflect the experiences of Aboriginal women, women with disabilities, immigrant and refugee women, women of colour, lesbians and heterosexual women, women living in rural and isolated communities, and women of different ages.

Breaking the Links was prepared in the spirit of sharing experiences and best practices by agencies that have struggled to understand the links between poverty and violence. It focuses on increasing understanding of the interplay between poverty and violence, and points to concrete ways that agencies and groups are trying to help. These efforts need to be seen in the larger context of efforts to challenge the fundamental inequality of women in Canadian society.

We invite you to use the information presented in this Guide, to make copies of the most useful sections and the fact sheets, to discuss the ideas and suggestions with your co-workers and activists.

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