Shedding light on abuse

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(Graphic by Steph Truong)

This year for Ontario’s Woman Abuse Awareness Month, the Women’s Crisis Services of the Waterloo Region is launching a campaign to do exactly what the month is for: raise awareness of woman abuse.

According to Mary Zilney, CEO of Women’s Crisis Services in Waterloo Region, “November has been set aside in recognition of women abuse and awareness and each year we always hold an event here in the Waterloo Region to raise awareness to the community about woman abuse and issues that are still facing us in our community.”

The flagship event this year will be taking place at the Armenian Center in Cambridge on Nov. 8 and the venue of 360 seats is already sold out.

“This dates way back, certainly to 25 years ago,” recalled Zilney. “The purpose of raising awareness is to have a focused attention on women abuse, violence against women, which is still a serious problem in society and a serious problem in the Waterloo Region.”

Lavie W., a student at Queen’s University who declined to give her last name, stated the month is important “so that women who are actually being abused know that they’re not alone and that other women like themselves go through it every day, so that they can all rise up against the sexist behaviour.”

The future of the campaign appears positive based on the current situation.

“We’re interested in attracting different people each year too, because the idea is to spread the word about violence against women, what the signs are, how people can help,” Zilney said.

However, she says that awareness is still not as well known as it could be.

“To a large degree it’s still a very privatized matter, despite that we’ve been in the community for 35 years,” she acknowledged. “We want to heighten awareness to the services we provide.”

Aside from the event this Thursday, Women’s Crisis Services will also be beginning their social media campaign to target women ages 18 to 25.

“That age group is likely to access our services. We’ve thought about that if they don’t know about us they can’t access us,” Zilney explained. “We’re trying to reach out in different ways for that age group, particularly around YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter.”

Another plan is to put coasters in restaurants younger people may frequent.

The events aren’t just central to Cambridge, but for the last two years they have been, in order to bring attention to the Cambridge shelter which is being rebuilt.

As a result of this, the organization is “particularly interested in raising awareness in the Cambridge area.”

This year’s event promises to be particularly emotional, with the inclusion of Lavon-Morris Grant as the keynote speaker, who has a personal story to share.

“It’s always difficult for the audience to hear that, but it’s necessary,” Zilney said “We just keep stretching year after year, to make it more successful and reach a broader spectrum.”

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