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CFL players leading change on domestic violence

Calgary Stampeders wide receiver Anthony Parker was a guest speaker on domestic violence Wednesday at Fort Macleod and District Community Hall.

Tuval Dinner Nafshi is community developer for the Alberta Council of Women’s Shelters’ Leading Change program.

Army cadets leader Werner Dressler talks with Anthony Parker and Tuval Dinner Nafshi.

Fort Macleod residents were urged earlier this month to lead change in attitudes in Alberta toward domestic violence.
Domestic violence is far more common than many people think and its impact is wide-spread.
“It’s a societal issue and it’s something we’re all affected by,” said Tuval Dinner Nafshi, community developer for the Alberta Council of Women’s Shelters’ Leading Change program.
Nafshi and Calgary Stampeders receiver Anthony Parker spoke to about 50 people Wednesday at Fort Macleod and District Community Hall.
Their presentation on domestic violence was sponsored by Fort Macleod Family and Community Support Services and the 2309 Fort Macleod Army Cadets.
The Alberta Council of Women’s Shelters is a 30-year-old non-profit organization that is an umbrella network for more than 50 women’s shelters in Alberta, including Pincher Creek and Lethbridge.
The shelter hotline is 1-866-331-3933.
The council makes resources available to people regardless of whether or not they are in a shelter.
Domestic violence takes the form of physical, emotional, psychological, sexual, financial and spiritual abuse.
People stay in abusive relationships for many reasons, including fear, self-blame, anger, depression, low self-esteem, a desire to make the relationship succeed, love, self-doubt and a belief or hope the abuser will change.
Other reasons for staying in an abusive relationship include no real protection, lack of access to protective orders, no shelter, no transportation, lack of child care, fear for the safety of pets, lack of health care, no affordable housing and language difficulties.
Many people visit a shelter more than once.
“We have to break that cycle,” Nafshi said.
One of the ways the council is addressing domestic violence is through the Leading Change program that began four years ago in partnership with the Canadian Football League.
Members of both the Calgary Stampeders and Edmonton Eskimos volunteer with the Leading Change program.
“We were able to recruit a few amazing guys from Calgary and Edmonton,” Nafshi said.
Anthony Parker, an eight-year CFL veteran who plays wide receiver for the Stampeders, is one of the players who volunteered.
“It all begins with the desire to have a positive impact on the people you encounter,” Parker said.
When Parker was asked to get involved with Leading Change he discussed it with his family and was shocked to discover his mother, mother-in-law and wife had all been impacted by domestic violence.
Research indicates that 67 per cent of all Canadians have known a woman who has been sexually or physically abused.
That number rises to 74 per cent in Alberta.
Every six days a woman in Canada is killed by her intimate partner.
“Domestic violence is obviously very prevalent,” Nafshi said.
Parker took the training and now makes presentations to adults and high school students across Alberta.
His message is that everyone has the ability to help reduce the incidence of domestic violence by learning more, recognizing it and speaking out.
“Really it’s about leadership,” Parker said.
Nafshi said domestic violence is mistakenly considered “a women’s issue,” when it really impact everyone. That means men have to help enact change.
“In order to really change things, in order to really make an impact, we need everybody,” Nafshi said. “It’s a community issue.”
Signs of domestic violence include:

  • Bruising or injuries often blamed on clumsiness or accidents.
  • Unseasonable clothing such as turtlenecks that may cover bruises.
  • Changes in a person’s ability to concentrate.
  • Unexplained absences from work.
  • Upsetting phone calls throughout the day.
  • Uncharacteristic sadness, withdrawal or exhaustion.
  • Uncharacteristic fear or anxiety.
  • Hints about trouble at home.
  • Controlling behaviour of a spouse.

People can help specific victims of domestic violence by being willing to listen, showing concern and providing a link to resources, including the police if there is an explicit threat to cause physical harm.
People can help bring about long-term change by talking to others — particularly children — to let them know violence is not part of a healthy relationship.

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