A Message from the Executive Director
The work that Counterpoint does has never been easy. However, since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020, things have only become more challenging. The impact of the pandemic on Intimate Partner Violence (IPV) has been well documented, and unfortunately, has not subsided. Meanwhile, various other crisis — including the housing, poverty, mental health, and overdose crisis — only serve to exacerbate IPV. Thankfully, many Ontario jurisdictions, including the City of Toronto, are starting to recognize IPV for what it is: an epidemic.
Despite the challenges of operating within this new and changing landscape, Counterpoint has continued to provide life-saving work. This past year, our Partner Assault Response program served 334 men, while our survivor support programs supported 763 women. All of our programs have been extremely consistent and attuned to the needs of our service users.
At the same time, we have also been able to expand our programming. This past summer, we offered our staff the opportunity to participate in a certified training for Mindful Fathering, a curriculum that helps fathers embrace a parenting approach grounded in non-violence, empathy, healthy communication, and respect.
And the success of one of newer programs Creating a Process of Change for Men who Abuse or At Risk of Abusing Training, has continued to grow. This training program is for those interested in working with Ontario PAR programs, as well as others who want to learn how to do effective anti-violence work with men. So far, 30 participants have graduated from the program, making this an important new revenue stream for the agency. We look forward to preparing more people with the capacity to do this important work all over the country and the world.
To that end, through a grant from the Canadian Women’s Foundation, we also produced the report “Women Take Action: An Injustice of the Criminal Justice System,” with support from the Barbra Schlifer Commemorative Clinic and Elizabeth Fry Toronto. The report responds to a perceived trend that the number of women being charged as perpetrators of domestic violence was increasing in Toronto. Through qualitative and quantitative research, including a number of case studies based on interviews with women who have been charged, we make a series of recommendations for changes across institutions, including policing, crown attorneys, legal representation, PAR agencies, and agencies serving women. 8
Internally, we have been working hard to institutionalize the knowledge within our agency, so that we can deliver our services more effectively. We have continued to implement the protocols and guidelines developed as part of the High-Risk Project. And we created an in-depth manual for Partner Contact Workers, so that they can do their jobs more effectively and efficiently.
We often say that IPV is systemic violence enacted at the individual level, and the desire to enact systemic change motivates our advocacy work. We have continued to provide a platform for women’s voices at every opportunity, both in this city and at the provincial level. Along with Native Family Services, we represented Toronto South at the Ministry of the Attorney General’s Roundtable. There we seized a fantastic opportunity for both PAR providers and MAG. There were several subjects brought up and discussed, however, the one I thought was most crucial was reviewing the Renfrew recommendations and jointly creating a working plan that is centered on them. All the Ontario PAR agencies said the same thing: to address IPV at a systemic level, we need more funding. And so, we continue to advocate for increasing the resources devoted to this important work.
I will close by extending my deep gratitude for everyone who makes our work possible. Counterpoint is made up of an incredible group of administrators, facilitators, partner contact workers, students, and volunteers, and we’re guided by a fabulous Board of Directors. Thank you as well to our main funder, the Ministry of the Attorney General — especially Barb Dowson and Joanne Wetendorf for your kind understanding and support. You’ve both contributed so much to helping us navigate critical moments, and we truly appreciate you.
Toward a future where everyone is safe and thriving,
Clara Luz Castillo