Meet Chris Davies, renowned weightlifter and official title holder of BC's Strongest Man. He can pull a 24,500 pound truck and bench press 530 pounds —roughly the weight of a full-grown black bear or five dishwashers stacked on top of each other. Imagine lifting that in the air while lying on your back!
He’s not only BC’s strongest man, but also one of the province’s toughest, although Chris has his own definition of what being tough actually means.
“With great power comes great responsibility, and being tough doesn’t just mean to be physically stronger. It means taking responsibility for that strength and our community.”
To do his share in raising awareness for this new definition of toughness, Chris has joined Chimo Community Services’ campaign, BC’s Toughest Men. Launched on Superbowl Sunday and running until International Women’s Day on March 8, BC’s Toughest Men is an anti-domestic violence campaign that encourages men to speak out against abuse of women and raise money for Chimo’s programs.
“80% of all perpetrators are men when it comes to domestic violence, so it’s clearly a men’s issue as well as a women’s issue,” says Mark Miller, Executive Director at Chimo.
“With this campaign we really hope to engage men in that conversation and at the same time tackle the shortage of housing solutions for victims.”
Safe Housing = A Fresh Start
Finding a safe place where they can recover and get help with “putting their life back together” is pivotal for women who are threatened by an abusive partner, says Mark. He hopes that BC’s Toughest Men will raise $100,000 for Chimo to put towards housing for abused women and their children to provide shelter and a chance for a fresh start.
“Every night, 200 women are turned away from shelters in North America, so there’s obviously a much greater need. There are women and children out there that need our help today.”
Not only does housing provide a safety net for those in need, finding solutions to tackle family violence can also have a positive impact on a wide range of other societal issues, which — at first glance — might seem unrelated.
“Family violence has a lot of almost untraceable impacts in many areas of our society that we don’t think about; Kids witnessing abuse who don’t function in school, homelessness, substance abuse. It's an issue that leads to many secondary issues that cost taxpayers money,” he says.
“Communities need to start to work on this together. We simply can’t look the other way any longer.”
Education & New Role Models For A Violence-Free Life
A big part of working on long-term solutions to end domestic violence is to educate men and establish role models that don’t condone violence, says Mark.
“We need to encourage men to come forward, to seek assistance, and we need to put together programs for young boys and men to change some of those attitudes and beliefs towards violence and towards women.”
For Chris Davies, a big part of educating men is helping them find the tools they need to curb anger. Having dealt with anger issues himself as a child and young adult, he knows that seeking out support and finding ways to reduce stress and aggression are key to a violence-free life.
“When I started training, it really helped me focus on other things and I found a supportive community I can talk to at the gym. So, go find an outlet to curb that negative stress, or someone you can talk to openly, instead of taking it out on the ones you love,” he says.
“It's shocking to me that 50 percent of women in BC have experienced some form of abuse. Men need to understand that it’s not okay to lash out if we want to see those stats drop.”