By Cecilia Nasmith
Purple is the colour of solidarity and support for women and children faced with domestic violence.
And as November is Woman Abuse Prevention Month, wearing those colours is also a timely statement.
Cornerstone Family Violence Prevention Centre is urging everyone to wear the purple ties and scarves they are selling so you can show your true colours.
Manager of communications Carly Cunningham issued a press release to show the immediacy and scope of the problem.
Within the first eight months of 2018, Cunningham said, 106 women and girls were killed in Canada as a result of gender-based violence. This averages out to one woman or girl killed every other day, and half of these deaths take place in the victims' homes.
“This means that women are at greatest risk where they should feel safest,” she said.
At a time when this issue is of greatest concern – and a time when the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements making the news – the demand for Cornerstone’s services is reaching historic rates.
In fact, the press release stated that their shelter program is now forced to turn away more women and children than they can provide service to in a year. As well, they can no longer accommodate all the requests they receive to provide education to young people and other members of the community about such prevention topics as consent, harassment and supporting survivors.
“Declining an offer to discuss prevention or having to turn away women and children is not the place Cornerstone wishes to be,” Cornerstone executive director Nancy Johnston said in the press release.
“But this is our current reality, as the shelter has operated over 100% capacity for four out of the last five years, going as high as 134%.”
Perhaps most troubling is a far-too-common scenario Johnston described.
“Often a women has struggled to decide whether or not she's going to open up to anybody about what's happened to her. When she is ready, when she reaches out and is told that there are no rooms, or there is a wait time to get in to see someone, she may never resurface again,” Johnston said.
The strength and courage this woman may have gathered is the right moment to make a connection. If that chance is lost, it may never return.
To break the cycle of violence and alleviate the stresses on Cornerstone's shelter system, the press release said, domestic violence must be brought further into the open. It's the only way to examine and dismiss stereotypes and misconceptions that lead members of the community to believe it couldn't happen here in Northumberland County.
“On the heels of #MeToo an #TimesUp, we need to show our support and create opportunities for dialogue between activists, policy makers and the public, now more than ever,” the release said.
“We need to have conversations about domestic violence and abuse, and recommit ourselves to understanding that we have an obligation as a community to care about the issue of gender-based violence – not just when it is a personal experience, not just when it happens to someone you know, but when it occurs in our community.”
During November, Woman Abuse Prevention Month, Cornerstone reaffirms the fundamental right of every woman and girl to live in safety and security in her home and community, free freom the threat of violence.
The agency also encourages members of the community to participate in the province-wide Wrapped In Courage campaign by purchasing the purple scarves and ties now on sale. Cornerstone is located at 40 Swayne St., Cobourg, and the purple items are $20 each.
Cornerstone also reminds you that, if you or someone you love is struggling with abuse, stand up and seek support any time of the day by connectiong with their 24-hour support line, 905-372-0746.