By Joanne Hagen
"My husband’s facade never breaks in public, but the kids and I have to deal with it lots, and its not just anger, it’s rage."
"I had an arranged marriage. When my first daughter was born, my husband was very angry and beat me badly. When my second daughter was born my husband and my mother-in-law beat me until I had broken bones."
"He goes through my purse, checks my cell phone and keeps track of my mileage. Once he threw me across the room because I wanted my parents to visit."
"My husband doesn’t physically beat me, he uses words to beat me up."
"One day he was angry about our finances. He ripped all of my drawers of clothes out and threw them all over the floor, yelling at me saying how stupid I was."
"I live in fear every day."
The room was absolutely still as the women spoke of the abuses they’d endured. Presented in a shadow play, the voices behind the back-lit curtain portrayed the moving accounts of battered women, driving home the truth of a chilling reality. The prevalence of abuse and violence against women is alarming, and the numbers will continue to climb as more women begin to speak out.
Encouraging battered women to speak out was a key message at the Leduc Alliance Church evening entitled Taking Time to Remember. Riseup Ministries hosted the event on December 6, Canada’s National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women and the anniversary of the worst mass murder in Canadian history. In 1989, 25-year old Marc Lepine walked into Montreal engineering school Ecole Polytechnique and shot and killed 14 women, injuring 14 others.
"In Canada, one woman is murdered every week," said Joanne Van Beek, MC and Executive Director of Riseup Ministries, "and 25 to 30% of women will experience violence in their lives." Van Beek pointed out that these estimations are based on the number of cases reported so in reality the numbers are likely significantly higher.
Abuse, physical or not, leaves deep wounds on the human psyche. It’s not about the bruises on our skin, said Joanne, rather, it’s about the internal damage, from the loss of self-worth to the mind-numbing fear to the lacerated human spirit. "This is not a women’s issue," said Van Beek, "it’s a human issue, a global human issue."
Partnering with Leduc & District Emergency Shelter Association, Riseup Ministries is helping to provide enhanced Outreach Services to women in abusive relationships within the City and County of Leduc. "We opened two and a half years ago," said Joanne, "and we’ve had over a hundred women come to us so far." As a registered charity, Van Beek says the generosity of the community has been "astounding".
Candles were lit and a moment of silence observed in honour of all women whose lives ended by violence.
Coffee and snacks were served while the silent auction and raffle draw took place.
As per their website, www.riseupministries.ca, Riseup Ministries qualifies for the Culture and Community Spirit Program provincial government grant, a grant that will match the grants of personal donors up to $10,000. For more information, to volunteer, or to make a donation, call Riseup Ministries at 780-739-7473.