Youth march from Old City Hall to Regent Park to raise awareness about domestic abuse

Members of a Toronto youth group on Sunday marched from Old City Hall to Regent Park to raise awareness about domestic abuse — an issue which they say is very prevalent but is hardly talked about.

Youth Gravity said the march was about raising awareness against domestic violence by uniting community members and allowing their voices to be heard.

"We think that a lot of people in our community are dealing with domestic abuse right now but no one knows where to go for the support," Sal Sabila told CBC Toronto.

Sabila also said there was a link between domestic abuse and gang violence, noting that young people who are dealing with domestic abuse right now are twice more likely to be violent when they become older.

Silence is being driven by stigma

She said stigmatization is one factor driving the silence among victims of domestic abuse.

"There's a huge stigma about domestic abuse. If you leave your husband, if you leave your family, you are never ever going to be able to come back," Sabila said.

"Domestic abuse is not something you can just snap out of right away. It's something you've been dealing with for so many years, so long, you need to have time to deal with the mental health, to deal with the physical health."

According to Youth Gravity, children and youth that grow up in abusive households are six times more likely to take their own lives and three times more likely to repeat the cycle in adulthood than those who grow up without experiencing domestic abuse.

It said that stopping the cycle will ultimately lead to a safer city now and in the future.

Vharshaa Punithechelvan said while the issue of domestic abuse is very prevalent among the South Asian community, it is cross cultural.

But she said the topic is often "put under a rug."

"People don't really believe it's an issue to be talked about."

Meanwhile, Sabin Ghimirey, one of the males who participated in Sunday's march, said domestic abuse affects all genders.

"For men, it's also teaching other men that it's not okay," he said.

"Let's speak about it more freely and tackle the issue, because only by speaking and having debates we can help society get better."