How the newly formed 'York Region Canadian Centre for Men and Families' is planning to make a difference in our community

2 min to read

Article by Bijan Rafii, Executive Director, Canadian Centre for Men and Families-York Region

Referred by a family member, Miles Markovic walked into the Canadian Centre for Men and Families (CCMF) in downtown Toronto in 2015 covered with bruises and a concussion. After enduring a 24-year abusive relationship with his partner, it had not occurred to him he was a victim of domestic violence “It was only after coming to CCMF and going to the police that healing began”, Miles recounted during a press conference in March 2019 which presented the first study focusing on men’s experience of violence from their partners.

Miles’s experience is not unique. According to the 2014 Stats Canada data covering approximately 14,000 individuals that have been in a heterosexual relationship for at least 5 years, 2.9% of men versus 1.7% of women were victims of domestic violence. These numbers were drastically different than police domestic violence incidents statistics. Authors argue that this difference is due to social taboos and fear of being arrested, which discourage men from reporting domestic violence to the police. “Domestic violence is a human issue and not a gender issue. Helping men will also help children of these relationships and save women’s lives by preventing escalation of violence” says Dr. Alexandra Lysova who is the lead author of the study and an established researcher in the dynamics of domestic violence.

According to Sheltersafe, an online resource for female IPV victims, there are 470 women’s shelters in Ontario, but none available for men. Although there are homeless shelters where male victims of domestic violence can stay in case of emergencies, these centres do not offer services such as legal, housing, child advocacy and counselling which are offered in women’s shelters. Legal counselling is particularly important as victims of domestic abuse stay in abusive relationships for fear of losing their children.

CCMF is an inclusive organization dedicated to providing support to men like Miles who face trauma due to various life crises. CCMF’s philosophy is “providing support to men and boys who need help will not only benefit them but also lower risk of harm to their families and the society”. Services offered by CCMF include therapy and counselling, facilitated group support program for male victims of domestic abuse, legal assistance and resources, employment resource consultation, and fathering after separation. These services are generally provided for free and are also extended to families of men in such situations. Women and the LGTBQ community are also well represented as volunteers and various leadership roles in CCMF.

Given the need for this service in the York Region, CCMF-York Region was established and began its services in Richmond Hill as of December of last year with pay-what-you-can therapy and counselling and is planning to extend its it services in the coming months to better serve the York Region Community.

CCMF is currently raising funds to establish the first domestic abuse shelter in Ontario for men and their children who are fleeing domestic violence. As a new agency, the centre is looking for donations and volunteers. For donations please visit www.menandfamilies.org/York.

For volunteering opportunities with our centre please email [email protected].

As the first fundraising event, CCMF-York region is sponsoring the premiere screening of the documentary “Erasing Family”. The documentary addresses the issue of parental alienation in North America, where many parents lose contact with their children after divorce and separation. The Erasing Family documentary follows young adults fighting to reunite with their broken families. For tickets please click here