I was not cognizant of domestic violence until I was in my 20s and working for an inner city university program in Winnipeg.
It was the 1980s and movies such as Tess of the D’Urbervilles and songs such as Suzanne Vega’s Luka were highlighting the problem but they seemed remote.
Then one day in the lunch room at work I was speaking with an adult student who started talking about her family.
I learned that growing up her life was pretty horrific.
Her face had been permanently altered because of years of beatings from her father.
She said she and her siblings were all victims of their father’s wrath. She was becoming a social worker and had been helping her siblings heal.
As the blinders came off I heard more and more stories from women.
Some were fleeing boyfriends and husbands, often to be housed in shelters.
Others were going for counselling to come to terms with abuse they’d had as children.
One night a new friend phoned me in Winnipeg to let me know she had moved to another city in the dead of night.
She had been in an abusive relationship for two years until one night her boyfriend put his hands around her neck and was choking her.
She realized at that point it was time to exit the relationship before he killed her.
We still marvel that she drove 15 hours straight without stopping to buy gas. She thought she had been transported there on angels’ wings.
This Friday the annual Take Back the Night Walk takes place in Williams Lake. Statistics show the RCMP are receiving 50 per cent less reports of domestic violence compared to last year, but Women’s Contact Society executive director Irene Willsie said domestic violence counselling services are very busy.
Three decades later I find the fact we need a Take Back the Night Walk a sobering reminder that these things still go on.
Where some of us retreat to our homes to feel safe from what can be a harsh world at times, there are still many people who live in cruel homes.
Willsie said domestic violence is not acceptable and as a community it is something we should be working hard to stop.
In 2014, the Ending Violence Association of B.C. reported that 18 people died from domestic violence, including 12 women and a child.
That’s 18 deaths too many.
Monica Lamb-Yorski is a staff writer with the Tribune/Weekend Advisor.