Reporter: Dan Cearns
The YWCA played host to Oshawa’s first event to mark Women Abuse Prevention month on Nov. 14.
“Emotionally, my family isolated me for most of my life. I drank a lot and did a lot of drugs. Spiritually, I questioned God and the creator. Mentally, I blamed myself,” said a student at Durham College.
This was one of many personal stories told at the event. There were three guest speakers at the event: Sandra Kicinko of the YWCA, Miranda Bouchard and Jeff Perera from the White Ribbon campaign, each with their own unique story.
Kicinko mentioned that after she left her husband, she faced death threats and lived in fear.
“I spent my mornings going to work with a screwdriver in my hand, and I spent my nights getting out of the car, looking around the bushes with that same screwdriver in my hand and an X-Acto knife also,” she said.
Perera said he was a witness to abuse to women in his own home, and that slowly changed him as a child.
“Some of my earliest memories are of my mother covered in bruises at the hands of my father,” he said. “Growing up, it was just recognizing that this is not my role model, this is not how I want to be as a man.”
Author and CEO of ER consulting services Ettie Rutherford also showed off her new book Women are worthy: why perch like an chick when you can soar like an Eagle and talked about her experience.
The event was put on by the Women’s Committee of Durham, a group of 13 organizations from around the region, including Durham College and UOIT, that handle women’s issues.
This particular event has been held the past five years, with the theme of it this year being to “shine the light on shame.” This was the first year that it was held at the YWCA.
This November, people of Ontario celebrated Women Abuse Prevention month.
The month was first recognized in Ontario in 1986 as Wife Assault Prevention month. But in 2005, it was renamed Women Abuse Prevention month.
According to Esther Enyolu, executive director of the Women’s Multicultural Resource and Counselling Centre, this month is a great way to educate people.
“It is very effective because it raises awareness about violence and women’s issues,” she said. “We need all hands on deck, we need everybody to be involved. It is something that everybody should do.”
Sandra McCormack of the Denise House said that the information people learn from this month will make society better as a whole.
“It is education for our community. Information is important, it allows us to be non-judgmental and supportive,” she said.
Abuse is a major issue in Durham, as each year since 2008, there have been over 2,000 reported cases of assault in the region, according to the Durham Regional Police.
“Durham Region has one of the highest rates of abuse in the province. It is a problem issue that is still pretty prevalent in the community,” said McCormack.
According to Enyolu, the amount of abuse that women are subjected to has not changed over the years, but the types of abuse has.
“In the past, it used to be a lot of physical. Now there’s isolation, emotional abuse, intimidation and manipulation,” she said.
With all that is said and done to women, the worst kind of abuse might be what is left unsaid.
“If you see someone treating someone with silence, don’t sit back,” said Rutherford. “Silence can be one of the most potent, deadly weapons used against you.”
There are three shelters where women can go to escape their abuser: The Denise House, The Horizon House and Bethesda House. The WMRCC offers one-on-one counselling, group counselling as well as mentorship programs. The Women’s Centre on campus offers information as well as crisis intervention and referral services.
Despite all that is offered, it is up to the victim of the abuse to move on and heal.
“Absolutely they can [move on from abuse]. The key thing is how a woman moves on is entirely her choice. Any type of positive movement is good,” said McCormack.
Not all abuse of women is reported to the police, mostly because of fear, according to Enyolu.
“Some of the women are not aware they can call the police, some are too scared to call the police because they feel they might get in trouble,” she said.