The hidden cost of domestic violence

Victoria Golf Club raises funds to support safer family services

Fred Rohani

Fred Rohani

Victoria Golf Club raises funds to support safer family services

Domestic violence is often hidden, but it’s when people don’t have a choice about where to go that they feel trapped – and that’s when their children become trapped, says Catherine Langpap.

“Children learn at the hands of their parents, and that’s where this begins,” says Langpap, co-chair of the Victoria Golf Club Charity Events Committee. “If we can give women and men options, we are creating a safer environment for our entire community.”

That’s the reason Langpap co-organized this year’s Victoria Golf Club Links to Change Charity Golf Invitational – the 12th year the club has raised money for the Victoria Women’s Transition House and the first year it has raised funds for Pacific Centre Family Services Association. With more than 450 golfers participating in this year’s three-day fundraising event from July 11 to 13, the numbers are significant: the club raised more than $138,500 for two local charities, bringing the golf club’s total contribution to the transition house to $813,000 in the past decade.

“This money allows us to provide those support services, like answering more than 2,000 crisis calls each year, providing shelter to 160 women and 60 children annually and doing prevention work in schools,” says Tracy Lubick, transition house development director.

The annual charity tournament is the single largest fundraiser for the transition house, which provides shelter, support, counselling and education to women and children so they can live free from the effects of abuse in intimate relationships. Meanwhile, Pacific Centre Family Services addresses the other side of the equation.

“Our goal is to hold men accountable, and create safer families in our communities,” says Mitzi Dean, executive director of the centre. “While there are services available for men who have been convicted or charged of violent crimes, so many of the men we work with come to us with unreported violence – and we know the majority of cases of family violence do go unreported.”

For the centre, the $45,000 from the charity tournament represents much more than a percentage of its annual budget – it shows acknowledgment from the community.

“This support really is tremendous for our programs, as we serve men from the entire south Island,” says Dean. “It allows us to have that sustainable service – we can retain our experienced counsellors, because not everyone is qualified to deal with these cases, and … it means we will be able to serve more families and all be living in safer communities.”

Though the Victoria Golf Club and domestic abuse might not seem like a natural connection, Dean expresses that abuse happens in every level of life. She says the centre’s clients represent an extremely diverse group of Island residents.

“There are clients we see who have extremely well-paying professional jobs, and while they have to pay to access our services, sometimes that is all the more valuable because they are investing in their own growth,” she says. “We challenge their thought patterns, and we do some work with their partners, as well, to understand how to deconstruct some of those unhealthy beliefs.”

When it comes to beliefs, Victoria Golf Club General Manager Scott Kolb says some of the reasons people choose to become members or staff at the club is because of this charitable act.

“This event holds such an impact, and it is so important to our staff, as they are keenly aware of the values of our community,” Kolb says. “It’s often why people want to be part of this club.”

While not everyone will be aware of a personal connection to the issues of domestic abuse, Fred Rohani, club president, says that a strong commitment was made 12 years ago to support the cause.

“Members might feel a disconnection with the issue, but this is one way we can do something to support services that are so needed,” Rohani says. “This is an issue that is not always so evident, and making that connection is important. … The women and men involved in organizing these fundraisers and hosting these services are the real heroes.”

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