Immigrants and domestic violence, the end of silence

A primordial fear runs through the story of the immigrants to whom The duty gave voice in its pages and in its podcast. Caught in the net of domestic violence exacerbated by a high-risk transition, Ivonne, Mélissa, Eva and the others bear witness to a vulnerability whose paralyzing severity was little suspected. Their extremely rare and courageous speech brings changes that we can only hope will be rapid and significant.

Colleagues Sarah R. Champagne and Félix Deschênes listened at length to these women who were sought to be silenced by isolating and controlling them to the point of violence. Their essential file comes at a time when amalgamations and shortcuts are easy. Rarely have we heard from one end of the political spectrum such a uniform message as since the publication of this study by the National Bank on the “demographic trap” which threatens Canada. Let’s not stop there, what our reporters describe calls for more nuance and humanity than a cold numerical observation.

Yes, our reception capacities are being tested. In many cases they are even outdated: Francisation Québec is overheating, there is a lack of affordable housing, reception classes and daycare centers are overflowing. In community organizations, things are stretched beyond reason. In shelters too. There, immigrant clienteles clearly exceed their weight in the general population. There is some bread on a wooden board. Too much bread.

Much has been written about the irresponsible migratory imbalances in which, each in their own way, Ottawa and Quebec participated, who stubbornly work against each other in this explosive issue. There is work to be done there too. But the immigrant women who are caught in the antechamber of a life that their partner refuses them – in complete contravention of our common values ​​– are here, now. The question is no longer whether we can welcome them, but how we welcomed them, or rather how we failed in the task and what we can still do differently for them and those who follow.

Their non-existent networks weaken them more than all other victims of domestic violence: no friends to confide in, no family to rely on, no employer to trust, no financial independence to steal their money. own wings. Not to mention the language barrier and the care of the little ones for some. These women face challenges whose magnitude disconcerts even those whose job it is to help these vulnerable clients.

Immigrating requires a wealth of organization and energy; it is, it is often said, the equivalent of a job in itself. But getting out of domestic violence is also practically a job full-time, we see everywhere in the field. However, the ten immigrant victims of violence who testified at the Duty in recent months have had to face violence that the Canadian and Quebec reception systems help to fuel.

In this as in all things, there is no need to go back to Francis Bacon or Thomas Hobbes to understand it, scientia potentia is : knowledge is still power. Thus, one day we will have to break through the leaden barrier that separates these women from us and forces them to rely entirely on spouses to whom the system knowingly hands over the keys to a common future that they have. also the right to draw for themselves. Let’s make sure we equip them as much as they do about their respective rights and duties in an open and egalitarian Quebec.

Above all, let us forget the cultural factors that are too easily pointed out and on which it is already possible to act with finesse and openness. If more of these women experience domestic violence, it is firstly because our structures allow it by isolating them beyond reason. Our case is unequivocal: our programs are not adapted to their unique and complex needs, not even the temporary residence permit (PST) which is specially designed for them. This lifeline, far from playing its role, can even contribute to their misfortunes, we discovered. Excessive delays, lost file, initial refusal or rejected extension: this sesame proved to be a burden for several of our interviewees.

Our laws poorly adapted to their realities, our excessive delays and our involuntary blinders do the rest. Now that we better measure the contexts of vulnerability in which we immerse them despite ourselves, let’s continue to dissect the phenomenon and document it with solid statistics, let’s equip ourselves and adapt. It took a lot of courage for these courageous people to tell the unspeakable, let’s continue to listen to them to do better in the future.

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