The issue of domestic violence has unfortunately been making headlines in Quebec over the past few weeks. As the pandemic forced the majority of us to stay at home, it also indirectly caused an increase in the cases of partner and spousal abuse.
According to the government of Quebec, “conjugal violence differs from arguments within a couple primarily because it involves an imbalance of power between partners.” Conjugal abuse may include a variety of types of violence, such as psychological, verbal, economic, physical, or sexual, and can manifest itself in the form of more than one type of violence at a time. (https://www.quebec.ca/en/family-and-support-for-individuals/violences/conjugal-violence)
To help the women victim of abuse, and the many children who often are collateral victims of the acts of violence, we spoke with Alouettes ambassador and former quarterback Anthony Calvillo. Through his poignant story and testimony, he wants to encourage all the abused women and kids to ask for help and provide men the resources needed to help them do their part to put an end to this destructive epidemic.
” My experience with domestic abuse dates back to my childhood. I had never talked about it before 2011 when the CFL produced a documentary on my life. I remember telling the producer that I didn’t want to talk about my father. But my mother wanted to, so I decided to make my story public. The abuse didn’t happen all the time. But what’s so scary is that you never know what to expect. You can have very normal days, and all of a sudden, the abuser becomes violent, and then you become very nervous.”
There are unfortunately many things that can trigger conjugal violence. And some events or behaviors can make it worse. Alcoholism is one of them.
“My father was an alcoholic. Some days, after having had too much to drink, he would put his hands on my mother, but we were kids, and we couldn’t do anything. The days that followed were very bizarre because no one talked about what had happened.”
Talking about it. That’s where lies a big part of the problem because the fear and the apprehension often prevent the victims from taking the steps to get out of the situation.
“As a child, when you see that kind of behavior regularly, you start to think it’s normal, but as you grow up, you realize that it’s not. For a long time, I kept that to myself. I didn’t dare talk about it with my mother or anyone else close to me. It all stopped the day my older brother, who was about 13 years old at the time, stepped in front of my father who was becoming violent again, and threatened him, telling him that it had to stop. Seeing a 13-year-old child stand up that way to protect his mother…that should never happen. But at least after that event, my father was less and less present.
Women are the primary victims of these acts of abuse, but the children, like Anthony at the time, become collateral victims. These extremely traumatizing experiences can be devastating for these children and have long-lasting repercussions.
“My children only found out about the story last year when we sat together to watch the CFL’s documentary. I wanted them to understand where I came from, what I went through, and what I did to make their lives better. It taught me that I didn’t want anything to do with alcoholism in my family. I knew that I wasn’t violent and that I would know how to take care of my wife later on, and I never wanted my family to go through what I went through. At the end of the day, the climate in our household is going to influence our children’s behaviors, so it’s important to be very careful.”
We know that unfortunately, many men become violent because they replicate behaviors they witnessed growing up, but according to Anthony, it is not a foregone conclusion.
“We learn a lot from our parents. We often model our character and our lifestyles after them, but I’m convinced that we are the masters of our destiny, of our way of living. We have the power to change our ways to avoid replicating harmful behaviors.”
Such education must also be done among young women. These situations are not normal, that’s the message that needs to be reinforced. No woman should have to go through domestic abuse, whether it be physical or psychological. Any young woman needs to recognize the signs as early as possible to make the right decisions from the start.
“I talk a lot about safety to my two daughters. I want them to understand that when the time comes for them to get into relationships, no violence, psychological or physical, is acceptable. The people they will share their life with will have to love them and respect them for who they are. “
Our former quarterback’s message is one of hope.
“I hope my story can inspire victims to get out of a toxic situation…If you have a chance to make a change, to break the cycle of violence, you need to do it, you must go out and get some help. Talk to close ones, teachers, friends, even church members if you go to church. Nothing about domestic abuse is normal and no one should have to go through this.”
Anthony shared his story to help those who need it. All these women who are abused on daily basis, and all the children, who just like our former quarterback, have gone through or still experience moments of fear and anguish. All these violent men who have the power to make a change by getting some help.
As a society, we must look out for the ones around us, whether it be family members or strangers, by recognizing the signs of abuse and lending a helping hand to prevent such acts of violence from taking place.
Help is at arm’s reach. We made a list of different available resources for those who are or know someone who is seeking assistance so that we can put an end to this dramatic issue as quickly as possible.
Thank you, Anthony !
911 – POLICE – When in doubt, don’t hesitate to dial 9-1-1
Policemen and policewomen are trained to quickly intervene with victims and aggressors with techniques to ensure the safety of all, to calm the situation or to take control of a dangerous person. https://www.inspq.qc.ca/violence-conjugale/victimes
SOS VIOLENCE CONJUGALE
SOS violence conjugale’s mission is to help ensure the safety of victims of intimate partner violence (IPV) and that of their children throughout Quebec, by offering free, bilingual, anonymous and confidential referral services. https://sosviolenceconjugale.ca/en
REGROUPEMENT DES MAISONS POUR FEMMES VICTIMES DE VIOLENCE CONJUGALE
By its mission to educate, sensitize and prevent, the organization offers an variety of strategies to help members of the society better understand, detect and act against domestic violence. https://maisons-femmes.qc.ca/
À CŒUR D’HOMMES
À cœur d’hommes is an network of 31 autonomous community organizations spread out around the province of Quebec to help men with violent behaviors with their spouses and families. https://www.acoeurdhomme.com/