ST. PAUL – In an effort to address a critical social issue, St. Paul Mayor Maureen Miller has signed a proclamation designating November as Family Violence Prevention Month in the Town and County of St. Paul, at the Capella Centre, Nov. 17.
The request was made by the Capella Centre, a St. Paul-based women's shelter that helps women and children escape domestic violence.
Jack McIntyre, executive director of Capella, told Lakeland This Week that the move is aimed at raising awareness about domestic violence and promote initiatives that contribute to its prevention, "not just in St. Paul, but in Alberta, Canada, and around the world.”
Domestic violence is a prevalent issue of gender-based violence, according to McIntyre, and there is a lot of work that needs to be done to start addressing the issue.
For example, McIntyre hopes to pursue initiatives that would educate youth about domestic violence and gender-based violence. According to McIntyre, among the causes of domestic violence include anger and stress.
He believes many people don’t “have the tools to deal with [their] anger issues... pressures in life... stress... and then you throw in addictions and mental issues on top of that.”
There is a need to help people manage these emotions so they will not use others, like their partners, as targets for their negative emotions.
Conflict between partners is also a cause of domestic violence. And there are “better ways to handle conflict,” other than family violence, said McIntyre.
He said he also hopes to have more people understand how much of an impact gender-based violence and domestic abuse have on families and the community. “It’s a little like mental health in my opinion, there’s still stigma to that,” said McIntyre.
Miller agreed. “Violence is often not talked about outside of a family home, and if the awareness isn’t brought to the community, it’s very easy to suppress and feel that it’s all under control – that it isn’t happening here,” she said.
Miller also shared McIntyre’s opinion that there are ways to handle conflict in a healthy way. Domestic abuse, Miller said, affects the whole family. “[It’s] worrisome to me that... we’re creating another generation that doesn’t have a tool to manage even their own relationships,” said Miller.
The lack of tools for younger generation, for example, can also surface on the playground, she said, worrying that some youth may not have the understanding to handle simple conflict.
She thanked the staff of the Capella Centre for their work, describing them as “true unsung heroes."
Workers at the Capella Centre are individuals who confront trauma on a daily basis. She commended their commitment, and acknowledged the staff deliberately operate behind closed doors to safeguard the dignity and privacy of the families they assist.
“They’re just here because they care, and they get worn out... they’re trying to keep families together and children thriving. They’re just trying to help pick up the pieces from these children and put them in a position to thrive with little resources,” Miller said. “It’s our responsibility to truly thank them.”