Our Senior Manager of Community Partnerships, Christie Buono, spoke with Jonie, a frontline victim service worker in BC who helps women experiencing gender-based violence (GBV). Read about how COVID-19 is impacting her job, why she is committed to making a difference, and why she is looking forward to the conversations that her “Ending Violence Together” face mask will facilitate.
CB: How has COVID-19 impacted how you do your job?
JG: COVID-19 has made it more difficult to build trusting relationships with clients because we’re not able to see them in person, which is an important component to building connection and trust. The lack of accessible resources due to COVID-19 has created additional barriers to women accessing services that are vital in their time of crisis.
CB: What appreciation have you seen from our community towards front-line workers, and what does that mean to you?
JG: I have seen our community come together collectively to express appreciation for frontline workers; from businesses offering free meals to on shift frontline staff, to storefronts writing and drawing messages of thanks to frontline workers. This has given me hope that compassion still exists.
CB: Why is investing in women’s healthcare, specifically GBV, important to you?
JG: When we invest in women’s healthcare, we are strengthening society; creating a positive ripple effect that reaches families, communities, and future generations. Supporting and investing in causes that aim to educate and bring awareness to gender-based violence is important, because this issue affects the health and well-being of individuals in our communities.
CB: If you were to bump into someone who contributed to GBV supports, what would you want to say to them?
JG:. I would say “thank you”, and let the person know their contributions are making a difference in someone’s life, and that by contributing, they are helping create a better and healthier society.
CB: Do you have a personal story you’d feel comfortable sharing that inspired you to work in your field and support women’s health?
JG: Helping others and doing meaningful work is something that is important to me and has led me to the work I do now as a victim service worker. The clients I work with are mainly women and children who have experienced abuse. Although it’s heavy work, and can at times feel like a steep uphill climb, seeing women make positive changes motivates me to keep advocating for women.
CB: What does it mean to you to be representing BC Women’s Health Foundation by wearing a mask that means more than just “protection,” a mask that’s actually tied to a cause you hold close to your heart?
JG: By wearing this mask and representing BC Women’s Health Foundation, it means I am continuing to advocate and bring awareness to gender-based violence. Being a part of this campaign creates opportunities to educate, and have conversations around a topic that affects many people in our society, and oftentimes in our close circles. I feel honoured to have the opportunity to share on a personal level about this important topic.
CB: Are you looking forward to the conversations your new BCWHF mask might strike up?
JG: I am looking forward to the conversations the BCWHF mask will bring! Any time I have a conversation with someone surrounding gender based violence, my hope is to leave them more informed and let them know they can also be involved in supporting women. People see this as something so big that they don’t know how to help or where to start, and that’s why these conversations are important and meaningful.
CB: Is there a woman, or women, in your life who inspires you?
JG: Having worked the past few months during a pandemic, I will say the team of women I work with have inspired me. They show up for the clients and the women in the community. Their strength and resiliency have been an inspiration to me, especially while working during a pandemic to provide services and support to vulnerable women and their families.
We are so grateful for the frontline work of inspiring victim service workers like Jonie. Help end gender-based violence in BC by purchasing an “Ending Violence Together” face mask. 100% of net proceeds will fund programs supporting women experiencing gender-based violence through our $600,000 partnership with the Ending Violence Association of BC.
BC Women’s Health Foundation is BC’s largest non-profit organization dedicated to advancing the full spectrum of women’s health. The information shared is intended to educate, inform, and point readers to credible sources. It is not intended to substitute professional medical advice.
If you or someone you know is experiencing gender-based violence — VictimLinkBC is available 24-7 in multiple languages. It can be reached toll-free by calling 800-563-0808 or emailing VictimLinkBC@bc211.ca. The service is confidential and available across BC and Yukon.