This post originally appeared on Huffington Post, as part of Mina’s ongoing blog series dedicated to raising awareness about the issues facing women and girls in Canada.
Rise Up! Speak Out! Stand Up!
Earlier this week, I heard women and men from across Canada screaming this at a One Billion Rising event in Toronto. Women and men coming together to speak up about violence and abuse towards women; to stand up for women’s safety and to demand that domestic violence and sexual assault stops.
And I was inspired.
The next day, I attended my third day of the Canadian Women’s Foundation Violence Prevention Grants meeting, where people from across the country helped decide funding for organizations from coast to coast to coast that are working every day to help women rebuild their lives after abuse; that are teaching teens how to recognize the signs of abuse and that are counselling children to ensure that they do not become abusers or abused themselves.
And I was confident.
Today, a survey was released that shows many Canadians believe that even if they disclosed abuse – to their friends, their family, the police – no one would believe them.
And I was heartbroken.
How is it that we live in a culture where speaking out is still taboo. A culture where so many blame victims for their own abuse. Where women are afraid to report or seek assistance because they worry that they will not be believed. How is it that we live in a society where 25% of Canadians have helped a friend leave a situation of domestic abuse but we know that there are so many more women for whom home is not a safe place.
But today and every day, I choose not to be heartbroken.
I choose to be inspired.
Inspired by the women whose stories I have had the honour of hearing. Women who have lived through abuse and who are now leaders, advocates and passionate defenders of every woman’s right to live free from violence.
I choose to be confident.
Confident that thanks to the voices of men and women, we will break the silence. Confident that violence against women will end. And that one day, we won’t need emergency shelters.
And I choose to be loud.
Loud about the need for services for women escaping abuse; loud about the programs that are being funded across the country and loud about the fact that violence is never ok and you are never to blame for your own abuse.
As one of the women who attended one of the programs funded by the Canadian Women’s Foundation once said “when we don’t talk about abuse, the stigma flourishes and we lock the door to safety and hope for other women.” I refuse to lock that door.
So I will continue to speak up, to stand up and to rise.