I don’t know what I was thinking. No, that’s not true. As I parked my car a few blocks away and walked to the downtown square where they would soon be lighting a large fir tree with purple lights to ‘shine the light on woman abuse’ for the month of November; I was thinking “I’ve healed”, “it’s time I volunteered and got involved”, “I could really help”. You see, it’s been six years and I thought I was ready.
I left the relationship, went to one-on-one counselling, participated in group counselling, even served on the Board of Directors of the women’s abuse centre for six months. I then found a new love, a new city and wrote a 47000 word manuscript about getting away from abuse. It’s one thing to write about it and yet another to actually do something. So I thought it was time to put my efforts towards helping others. My intentions were pure.
As I approached the square, I felt a lump in my throat. I fought through it. I went up to the women’s shelter booth and asked about volunteering. A welcoming woman said, “We’re all volunteers and there’s lots to do. You can do anything from help at an event to wrap Christmas gifts.” I took a card and joined the crowd to listen to the speakers: the mayor, the head of the shelter and then the honouree – a survivor who now counsels victims and survivors.
She was clearly nervous. She didn’t speak of her own ordeal. She directed her communication at social blindness and prejudice toward abused women in general. She spoke of how the public react with either indifference or disbelief. It was powerful. She moved me so I had tears running down my cheeks. I stood there like stone searching to see if anyone else was as impacted as me. Rather than choked up, wimpy women; they looked like warriors, angry activists. I’m not there yet.
When the speeches were done and tree lit purple, an Indigenous drum group performed and I flew from the crowd hastily walking back to my car with tears full flowing. I’m not there yet. My dream is that one day I too will be a warrior.
I don’t have to tell you that women who’ve undergone this ordeal are scared and a little fragile even after an event. Women don’t need to be warriors, they just need to be determined that it won’t happen again to themselves for sure, to anyone else if they can help. They need to be ready to call in the cavalry in the shape of the police in the first instance and make use of any support services available. NEVER should you decide it’s not a good idea to press charges because violence requires a price so that women can achieve their safety.
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You’re right. Women remain scared because many former partners continue to stalk and harass after they’ve left the relationship. In my mind being a warrior is to shine the light of the issue and, perhaps getting to the place where I can help others. Thanks for the kind words and hugs.
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