Nicole rose from her seat and slowly made her way to the stage. Many guests thought she might change her mind at the last minute but this soft-spoken woman was determined to keep her promise and share her story.
“I was in a relationship where my common-law spouse was abusive and violent. He controlled my comings and goings, my friendships, my finances and tried to control my thoughts and my parenting of my two kids. When I realized I could not take it any longer and that his violence threatened my life and I wanted to regain my identity, things escalated. I was hit, held against my will and my life and my son’s life were threatened with a weapon. Over the course of several years, I often thought, “I am an educated woman. How did I get myself into this? And … how can I ever get away and start a new life?”
Two years after moving to Leduc with my partner and my two kids, after one more violent incident, a friend suggested I seek help at Riseup House. With the emotional support and solid advice of my Riseup counsellor, I was able to walk away from my abusive situation and regain hope that a normal, safe and happy life was possible for me and my children. With Nicole’s abuser in jail for a few more months, she has started to rebuild her confidence and trust in the future.
‘Rising Up For Hope and Healing’ was the 3rd Annual Fundraiser for Riseup House. This critical Leduc organisation was grateful to get the community’s heartfelt support towards its programs and resources dispensed each year by certified and volunteer counsellors to victims of domestic abuse in this community and region.
The December 5th well-planned and interesting fundraiser’s timing was perfect as November was Family Violence Awareness Month and December 6 was the anniversary of the 1989 tragic incident at École Polytechnique de Montréal where 14 women lost their lives at the hands of a mad gunman. Across Canada, communities held a candlelight vigil to honour women and families impacted by domestic violence, sometimes a multi-generational cycle that is hard to break from.
Joanne Van Beek, founder and former executive director of Riseup House, is still a vital supporter. Sacha Aldrich, the new director of Riseup since June of this year, seems to share Ms. Van Beek’s passion for helping victims of domestic abuse. Her recent letter to friends of the society described how over the past year, Riseup has seen 33 new clients, women seeking hope and healing in their troubled times of being tormented and abused by a spouse. 670 counseling sessions were offered and nine support groups were joined by 250 women.
Lorraine Weir, owner of Brambles Ladies Wear Boutique, was this year’s dynamic event co-chair and her passionate dedication to the cause was contagious. The fundraiser featured a Live Auction with wonderful paintings by local artist Crystal Lynn Johnson and other artsy items, and the Silent auction offered lovely items generously donated by individuals and local business owners. Fundraising continues through the website www.riseuphouse.ca. Riseup wishes to express its gratitude to any support that will (and has) come its way.
Pictured: Riseup event co-chair Lorraine Weir poses with guest Sacha Steel-Douglas. Photo by Dominique Vrolyk