This week my husband and I, along with our golden retriever Piper, took part in the South Okanagan Women In Need Society (SOWINS) fundraiser walk to end abuse and violence.
Over the years I’ve witnessed young women—some I’ve know well and other’s mere acquaintances—get sucked into a cycle of violence, abuse, and manipulation all in the name of love. It’s not a place where anyone wants to find themselves and with the stigma, self-imposed shame, fear, and isolation that accompanies it, awareness of organizations like SOWINS is crucial.
The event began with a young woman sharing her story which consisted of a lifetime spiral of confusion and violence. As a child, her mother hit and ridiculed her—to her the abuse was normal. As a result she continued down that dark lonely path as she married and had a family with an abusive partner—her normal. It took years, but she learned that it wasn’t acceptable and she deserved better. She knew she needed to save herself and her children. She finally went to the authorities.
“You don’t look like a battered woman,” they said. “Where are the bruises?”
“The one’s on my arms have faded,” she answered, “but the bruises and wounds are still on my heart.”
This simple phrase, to me, says it all. It reflects the invisible pain that she carried for so many years and the scars left by those who were supposed to love and protect her. She fought long and hard while working to better the living situation for herself and her children. She didn’t give up and finally succeeded in finding a life free of abuse.
As she spoke, the wind whipped her skirt and hair to one side. I couldn’t help think that forces beyond her control, like the wind, may push and cajole but she’s now on solid ground. She has found peace. This woman is now using her life as a platform to empower women in hopes that they don’t get caught in similar circumstances. The message is that we must remember and embrace the fact that love doesn’t hurt or manipulate—ever.
SOWINS has services for women who are experiencing violence either at home or in a relationship. There’s even an emergency youth bed for crisis situations to help keep a young woman safe and off the streets. Guidance is provided through counseling, support services, and a safe place to stay. For their Counseling Office call 250-493-4366. The 24 hour crisis line is 1-800-814-2033.
Abuse and violence amongst teens and young people is a very real thing and shouldn’t be ignored. A few months back I did a column on the signs of abuse—if you’d like a copy, check my website or pm me for a copy.
On a more uplifting note, I’d like to welcome Wills Hodgkinson back home from Children’s Hospital. When I saw his picture in the paper the aura of trust and innocence about him made me smile and served as a reminder that I need to be thankful for the simple things in life. He and his family have been through hell but he’s still got that beauty of playfulness and youth in his smile. I believe in you Wills. My thoughts and prayers are with you. I hope you can recharge your batteries through the love of family and friends.
I also wanted to thank the many readers who contacted me regarding my column in which I discussed the movie Indian Horse. I received a lot of letters and though I tried to connect with everyone, I wasn’t wholly successful. One man shared his personal story of growing up in a broken family, cycling through the foster care system, and losing his name. He’s now reclaimed his indigenous heritage but the pain runs deep and the fight continues. He shared this quote from Stephen Covey. I think it speaks volumes. “Remember, we are not human beings having a spiritual experience. We are spiritual beings having a human experience.”
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