The Revelstoke Women’s Shelter led the annual Prevention of Violence Against Women Walk on April 21, leading about five dozen marchers from Revelstoke Secondary School to Grizzly Plaza where they rallied and listened to speeches.
Revelstoke Women’s Shelter frontline worker Marie-Eve Bruchig participated with local students, leading workshops on subjects like violence and bullying issues.
“We make them aware that violence is there and we can do something about it,” Bruchig said.
During the workshops, students wrote messages on signs that were then displayed at the gazebo.
“There is always someone to talk to, someone who cares, someone who can help. It all starts by asking for help!” wrote one student.
“Even if it’s a secret, do the right thing and tell someone who can help,” wrote another.
“Tell someone who could help them if you can’t help them yourself,” a third said.
Nelli Richardson, the executive director of the Revelstoke Women’s Shelter, told the crowd assembled at Grizzly Plaza that violence against women was a pressing social issue.
“Violence has a longstanding effect on the life of the individual,” she said. “It impacts their family, their friends, their community and the rest of society.”
She said she hoped the walk raised awareness that would lead to change. “Violence against women happens too often in B.C. communities, and we need to speak out.”
“We must work with men and boys in our communities to prevent violence against women,” Richardson said. Boys made up the majority of student marchers.
Richardson said reliable statistics are not readily available but in 2009, 13,000 women and children were in transition houses in B.C., and that 100,000 women were affected over a recent five-year period.
“That’s an average of 20,000 women a year that are affected by violence in our province alone,” she said.
Richardson said four out of 10 women reported that their children witnessed this violence. In a five-year period, the B.C. Coroners Service investigated 73 deaths that were attributed to violence against women in a relationship.
Richardson said poverty in B.C. and lack of options for women was a contributing cause.
Revelstoke city councillor and BCAS paramedic Antoinette Halberstadt said she was proud to be part of a city that has support services and counselling, “and a general attitude of caring for the safety of our children, our men and our women, and support services for people who know that they are being abusive, or fear they are being abusive.”
Halberstadt encouraged youth to pay attention to programs like Screen Smart, and learn about the subtle messages in popular culture that encourage alcohol and drug consumption.
“When you’re drunk and on drugs, there’s a good chance you’re going to be the victim,” she said.