How a new website hopes to connect abusive men to counseling as violent online searches increase in pandemic

A Calgary organization focused on helping victims of family violence and intimate partner violence is expanding its reach in hopes of meeting abusers where many of them live: online.

For years, the Calgary Women’s Emergency Shelter has offered free counseling to male perpetrators of domestic violence and domestic violence. But if these men were to google for resources, many were using terms that wouldn’t always lead to helpful assistance.

The Calgary Women’s Emergency Shelter is launching new web resources for men who abuse women, in a website set to go live on Friday. (Submitted by Kim Ruse / Calgary Women’s Emergency Shelter)

That’s what the organization’s CEO hopes to resolve with new web resources that will go live later this week.

“We know that the language men use is very different from that of women and they will search online first before picking up a hotline number and calling someone,” Kim Ruse told the Open your eyes to Calgary.

“We had this idea to have a digital platform connected to a crisis line.”

Her existing shelter program is already popular with abusers seeking to change their behavior. She says about 500 people access counseling each year and there is currently a waiting list of about 100.

But more web support has been a goal for some time now.

“We have this digital resource, which has information, materials, ways to connect with the community and learn ways to improve your emotional and relationship health. When you use the term ‘healthy relationships’, men think they’re already in a healthy relationship so it’s not something they would be looking for, ”she said.

“They can look for anger management or loneliness and depression. It’s a subtle difference.”

“How can I kill my partner? “

Ruse says research has revealed disturbing results in what Google men do, in part, as a result of the COVID pandemic.

“There has been an increase in some really scary search terms over the past couple of years. Things like “How can I kill my partner? Or “How can I hurt my partner without anyone knowing?” “”, She declared.

“We have seen increases in these search terms of 10 to 40% since the start of the pandemic.”

Women victims, on the other hand, use research such as “How can I leave safely?” “

Toxic masculinity

And the gender differences extend far beyond Google searches, says a social work professor.

“The biggest challenge is the persistence of toxic stereotypes about masculinity, which prevent men from acknowledging that they have problems. So it’s hard to reach out,” Peter Choate of Mount Royal University told CBC News in an interview.

His research focuses on family violence, child protection and family court.

Choate says our cultural response to men’s crying is a good example of challenges to overcome.

“It’s part of saying, ‘You don’t have the right to show emotions as a man. “It’s toxic masculinity. You are supposed to be tough, to be able to handle it all, to get out of it. You are supposed to be dominant and in control,” Choate said.

Peter Choate of the MRU is a social work professor whose work focuses on domestic violence, child protection and family court. (Submitted by Peter Choate / April Choate)

“These are all myths that make it so hard for a man to be able to say, ‘I need help. “”

But there is another dangerous dimension to toxic masculinity.

“There are a small number of occasions where men are also victimized. They face the same barrier. Due to toxic masculinity, you are not allowed to say, ‘I’m in trouble in a relationship. where I’m victimized “because tough men don’t get victimized, do you?” says Choate.

“The vast majority of domestic violence cases involve men as the perpetrators, but there are cases where men are also victims.”

Choate is therefore optimistic about new web resources, such as those offered by the Calgary Women’s Emergency Shelter.

“They will find blog posts, articles, an upcoming podcast, a connection to the crisis line if needed,” Ruse said.

“At that point when you’re looking for help, that’s when you’re most likely to reach out and call someone. The men told us that loud and clear. I wish I had reached out in a way that could have saved my relationship. ‘”

The new website,, includes sections covering health, relationships, masculinity, community, and more. It will go live on Friday.

With files from the Calgary Eyeopener

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