Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Take Back Dignity and Safety

This evening at 6:00 PM people will gather in the parking lot of the Canadian Legion on King St. in Bowmanville for the annual Take Back the Night walk. Originally these walks were for women only, a way to make a statement that women should be able to walk the streets of a community at any time of the day or night without threat or fear. As the years have gone on men in solidarity with this goal have been invited to participate. More recently the walks have been preceded by speakers who address the issues of violence against women in a more general way.

This year the speaker at the Bowmanville event is Belleville police chief Cory McMullen. You might recall that Chief McMullen was assaulted by her husband who was in a jealous rage. She was helped by strangers and the husband, a former police officer, was later convicted.

I'm looking forward to hearing her. Chief McMullen had the courage to go public with her story and obviously still wants to support the cause of women who experience abuse. Her situation is an example of the reality of domestic violence. It can happen to anyone (female or male), of any age, and in any circumstance of life. Ruth, my wife, is a crisis counsellor for Bethesda House in Bowmanville and she points out regularly that there is no profile for an abused person, nor for the abuser. Many of her clients are middle class and a fair number are people of faith involved in congregations of various religions.

It does bother me when Ruth expresses her frustration that some clergy are the impediment for women to leave abusive situations. The women are encouraged to believe that the covenant they made must be kept, and to work at resolving issues. Of course they cannot make an abuser stop just because they believe in the sanctity of marriage, and staying can put themselves and children in danger. I just don't understand how these pastors and priests can feel that it is God's will that anyone endure abuse.

Would you be comfortable helping someone you know seek the assistance they need if they were in an abusive relationship? Would you know who to call? Have you had experience supporting someone who has lived through this?

Perhaps this is the year you will attend. If you have daughters, or for that matter sons, they may benefit from the educational opportunity, even if the subject is uncomfortable.


johnny said...

Domestic abuse is such a huge and prevalent problem.

From a policing perspective, it can be somewhat frustrating in a couple of ways.

I can't count the number of times I have charged one party with assault - often assault causing or aggravated assault - only to have the victim not co-operate. He or she may either not testify, or allows the abuser to breach a condition by allowing him back in the house before court.

I have even had the victim attack me when attending a domestic dispute.

I realize victims of domestic abuse have been not only hurt physically, but also emotionally, but when you want to help but have roadblocks placed by the victim, it can be challenging.

In short, nobody should be living in an emotionally or physically abusive relationship. Nobody deserves that...and the sanctity of marriage should not prevent it.

dmy said...

I have knowledge first hand of domestic abuse (verbal and physical)and the effects on the family. My father came from a background of abusers and his mood swings would depend on what he was drinking or often a comment that he didn't agree with. My brothers and I got to know the signs and what would follow. My Mother removed us from the situation and her family assisted and supported us during the transition. We could all sleep peacefully until he decided to follow us and the nightmares came back. The police were of help especially when a rifle became part of the equation and off he went to jail. Unfortunately the local priest encouraged my Mother to stay in the realtionship and work on it. I agree with Ruth, it can be frustrating when the church supports the abuser and when they don't take into account the family as a whole. We all know it is not God's will to have the family endure abuse and that this same abuse should negate any covenant made prior to the abuse. I have in the past encouraged and assisted women to leave an abusive relationship, nobody deserves to live in fear for themselves or their family.