So many kids stay at shelters operated by Women’s Crisis Services of Waterloo Region each year that they could fill 10 primary school classes. Many of them are in actual primary school classes, if they are even old enough to attend school, as 80% of those kids are 10 years old or younger.

Nearly half of all women fleeing an abusive relationship bring children with them to one of two shelters in Waterloo Region. That means that at any one time about half the beds in the shelters are occupied by kids from newborns to 17 years old.

These statistics are included in an infographic released at the launch of an awareness campaign about woman abuse that is running through the month of November. The infographic also includes examples of how woman abuse damages all kids even when the adults in their lives think the kids don’t know about it or will not remember. It also shares signs of how kids’ behavior may change because they live in a home with violence against women. The infographic and related information is available at wcswr.org/kids.

“Many women seek help from our shelters and outreach programs because they are concerned about the safety of their kids,” said Mary Zilney, Chief Executive Officer of Women’s Crisis Services of Waterloo Region. “Women between ages 24 and 35 are at most at risk of being in an abusive relationship. At the same time, many are raising young children or planning to become mothers. By sharing how woman abuse damages all kids, we hope that when mothers find themselves in unhealthy relationships that they will be moved to help themselves and help their kids.”

This year’s awareness campaign features a new connection between salons and spas across Waterloo Region and Women’s Crisis Services. People can get buttons to wear to show their support or get a card with information on how abused women can get help during November at 16 salons and spas. The event also officially launched the Cut it Out initiative that trained 15 salon and spa staff to recognize the signs of abuse and how to refer women to help. More than 40 students studying to work in the industry were trained at Gina’s College and Marvel School of Cosmetics so they could use the same knowledge when they establish their careers.

“We greatly appreciate how businesses that serve thousands of women are helping spread awareness about woman abuse by sharing our buttons and cards,” said Zilney. “We’re especially pleased to see so many trusted service providers choosing to participate in Cut it Out and making a commitment to help women move beyond violence throughout the year.”

“We were established 35 years ago in 1978,” said Zilney. “And the average age of the women we serve is 35. That demonstrates just how much more work we still need to do.”