Women will be the most affected by recent cuts in provincial and federal funding for certain social services in the city, says Michele Chappaz, the coordinator of the Montreal Assault Prevention Centre.
The centre opened its doors to the public on Nov. 25 to promote the message that the services they provide to women and children in Montreal are essential to a safer and non-violent community.
“A study says a girl who has an hour of prevention lessons is less likely to be assaulted as an adult,” Chappaz said.
The study, conducted by Laura Gibson and Harold Leitenberg, stated that if women are taught prevention tools early on in life, then they are better equipped to defend themselves from predators.
Chappaz said the centre provides women and children defense techniques that fit their personalities and lifestyles. She stressed that no judgements are made and people are left with strategies that help them. She added that the tools they teach help children and adults to deal with bullying and other forms of mental and physical assault.
This year, Chappaz said, after 10 years of government funding, the centre will have to depend on the generosity of volunteers and community donations to stay afloat. Chappaz said that women and children will be affected the most since the centre will no longer be able to provide free services to them.
“Women living in poverty can’t afford to pay $60 for the program,” Chappaz said.
The most popular of the programs offered is called the Action program. Action is a course designed to help all women and girls defend themselves against a predator. Now women are asked to pay for the course and Chappaz is worried that the women who need the service the most will not seek help.
“People are donating,” Chappaz said, “but we would need a 100 times more to meet the needs of all women.”
According to Chappaz, the Child Assault Prevention Project [CAPS] that is taught in schools will also be severely affected. She said they may have to cut the program short by a couple of months if they do not get enough money to fund it.
The centre has applied for grants and is now reaching out to the community to ask for their support. Chappaz said the centre has less of a financial budget to work with than they had 10 years ago, but they have double the staff, a large clientele, and their rent is three times as much.
Chappaz said there are several ways Montrealers can help the centre. They can become a member, volunteer, write a letter of support or donate money.
“If there is more prevention earlier on,” Chappaz said, “there is less to do later.”