In 2012, Planned Parenthood Ottawa (PPO), the Ottawa Coalition to End Violence Against Women (OCTEVAW), Canadians for Choice, and the Canadian Federation for Sexual Health collaborated to develop the Bridging Services for Women: Coordinating a Community Response to Violence Against Women and Sexual & Reproductive Health Project. The issue of reproductive coercion and a need to respond to the impacts of violence on women’s sexual and reproductive health were jointly identified as priorities by the partnering organizations, which span across both Violence Against Women (VAW) and Sexual and Reproductive Health (SRH) sectors.
Although VAW and SRH services are reasonably well established in Ottawa the sectors currently work quite independently of one another, which has the potential to create barriers for women accessing services and isolate service providers. Service providers in both groups have identified Information and training needs about the intersections of VAW and SRH. Bridging Services For Women (BFSW) emerged as a multi-phase project designed to identify issues and strengthen responses to women’s experience of sexual and reproductive health-based violence through increasing communication, training, and knowledge sharing across sectors. With the support of the Community Foundation of Ottawa, Phase One of the project began in October 2012.
This four-month phase undertook research and community consultation by gathering information from Ottawa and regional service providers about their current strengths, challenges and information needs in providing both VAW and SRH services. The particular focus of the consultations was service providers’ understanding of reproductive coercion, how organizations in both sectors both encounter and engage the issues, and what knowledge-building , training, and information-sharing tools they desired.