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Reply to Open Letter to LSS

LSS received an open letter in response to one of ten fact sheets in our award-winning Live Safe End Abuse series, an information sheet for men abused by their female partners. Although written in gender-neutral language, the balance of the fact sheets are intended to meet the needs of abused women. Concerns had been brought to LSS in the past regarding the exclusive focus of our Legal Information for Battered Women series and the Live Safe End Abuse series was intended to address those concerns. We agree with feedback that it would be appropriate to address abuse of a woman by her male partner with gender-specific language, particularly as we have addressed the issue of men’s abuse by women. Accordingly, we have now posted a fact sheet with gender-specific language for women abused by men.

As to our publishing priorities, we are aware of the scarcity of resources and take care to avoid duplication of public legal information. In planning the scope of the Live Safe End Abuse series, we were informed by our Report on a Community Review of LSS Publications on Violence against Women in Relationships, available on our website.  Somewhat surprisingly, considering the topic was violence against women, the need for a publication for men abused by women emerged.  The report also flagged a need for information regarding abuse for the LGBT community. During our follow-up research, we found no BC publications for men abused by women, but did find resources for the LGBT community. Rather than duplicate information, we linked to the EVA website which has a compilation of resources. The issue uncovered in our Report seemed to reflect a lack of awareness of existing resources rather than an absence of resources. To further improve accessibility, we added additional links to EVA’s site, and worked with Qmunity, adding direct links to their website and Abuse in Same Sex Relationships and Transgender People and Relationship Abuse publications.  We are committed to continued work with community agencies to identify and fill gaps in public legal information.

Our fact sheet for men was, and is, consistent with government-produced Canadian public information on the topic. The men’s publication has been well received by victim serving agencies that work with this demographic. The appreciation expressed and the demand for this information confirms LSS is on the correct track in providing it. However, concern was raised that the original publication could be used by abusive men to further abuse women. While a seemingly small possibility, because we could both respect that perspective and still provide relevant information for men, change was made. In addition to addressing that primary concern, other suggested minor changes as referenced in the open letter were introduced. Our next steps include additional legal and social science research to further consider points raised in the open letter and consultations to ensure that both men’s and women’s information needs are met by the newest fact sheets.  Interested agencies will be kept apprised and provided opportunity for feedback.

Sherry MacLennan
Director, Public Legal Information & Applications
Legal Services Society

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