It was an emotional and joyous night at the Revelstoke Performing Arts Centre last Thursday as about 100 people came out for Revelstoke Rising – an evening to promote awareness of violence against women, children and other vulnerable people.
The event was part of the global V-Day campaign organized by Eve Ensler, the author of the Vagina Monologues and an activist who has sought to create a movement to end violence against women. This year, the aim was to gather one billion people at events across the world
In Revelstoke, the night opened with a flash mob dance, as women emerged from all corners of the theatre to perform.
Joanne Stacey served as MC. She talked about how at the age of 12 she was told one in four girls would suffer from abuse. She looked at three of her friends – one was abused by her father, two were sexually abused and she was abused emotionally by her step mother. “That’s four out of four,” she said.
The event was held to raise money for the Revelstoke Women’s Shelter and the Revelstoke Community Response Network. Nelli Richardson, Otti Brown and Stephanie Melnyk spoke about the role of those two organizations in raising awareness about people who are abused, and helping support them.
“I hope we can make our community safer, and violence and abuse in any form will not be tolerated,” said Richardson.
Jewelles Smith, a women’s rights activist said that women must not feel afraid to speak about when they’re being abused, and that men must also be made to feel so shameful about abusing a woman they would never even consider it.
The emotional point of the evening was Otti Brown’s deeply personal story of having her son kidnapped by her ex-husband. She got married at the age of 20 and had a son when she was 22, but the marriage was rife with abuse.
“I was sure things would get better but in the end, it got worse,” she told the audience.
After she left him, he took revenge by kidnapping her son. The first time, it was for a few months. The second time, Brown went eight years not knowing where her baby was until her husband was finally located.
“I can’t even begin to describe my mental state after this second time,” she said.
Finally, her husband was found and she was reunited with her son. Her ex got two years for kidnapping. Brown thanked everyone who helped her during that period of her life with helping to get her to where she is today.
Another poignant moment was the Blanket Skit, where Nelli Richardson read out the story of a woman was being abused. As she read out the story of a woman who was being abused, blankets were put over a woman sitting in the middle.
At first people kept making excuses for the husband, and more blankets were added. Then, as the woman started getting support for her problems and people recognized her husband was the problem, the blankets were removed.
The evening wasn’t all somber moments – there were also songs sung by Aza Deschamps, Janet Pearson, Paige Makarewicz and Sharlene Foisy.
The second half featured local speakers delivering a series of monologues from the book A Memory, A Monologue, a Rant and a Prayer – a collection of writings to stop violence against women and girls edited by Eve Ensler.