Now that December 6, the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women, has passed and the vigils are over, it is important to not let our attention fade out with the candlelight. The struggle to end violence against women carries on every day of the year, and it needs to involve each and every one of us.
Sadly, the murder of 14 women at École Polytechnique in Montréal 21 years ago is just the tip of the iceberg. Partner abuse and sexual violence are still rampant throughout the country, including our Kingston and Frontenac communities. The Sexual Assault Centre, Kingston Interval House, and other organizations are working ceaselessly to provide services for the alarmingly large number of victims and survivors. And unfortunately, there are no signs on the horizon of the trends letting up.
This fight does not belong only to the affected women and the agencies that help them. All of us are in some way negatively impacted by the violence; and in some way, we all have a part in ending it.
The wide array of issues relating to domestic and sexual violence can seem much larger than any one person, and cause us to feel overwhelmed. The reality, though, is that none of these problems are insurmountable. Even as individuals, we can make seemingly small differences in our own lives, which add up to widespread improvement for everyone.
For those of us in a position to give, financial support for Sexual Assault Centre Kingston, Interval House, and related organizations is crucial to them being able to continue their daunting work. Getting involved with local campaigns such as Picture An End To Violence, or attending events like December 6 vigils, helps to raise funds and awareness. Even simple gestures such as wearing white or purple ribbons can help by spreading the message.
The bottom line is that we must overcome any sense of helplessness, and stop being bystanders. This can mean contributing through some of the ways described above; but it can also mean engaging on a personal level–maybe by breaking the silence around situations that exist in our family, social, or workplace dynamics; perhaps by reaching out to someone you fear is being victimized.
Whatever the specific opportunities for you to act may be, it is important for keep the struggle to end violence against women at the forefront of our thoughts, and actions, every day of the year.
Kim Allen and Lisa Fox
The Kingston Frontenac Anti-Violence Coordinating Committee