I know…this blog is supposed to be around health and fitness…my every day life of working out, feeling good about myself, eating well and HOPEFULLY inspiring other women to know they are not alone in the struggle to feel whole.
Every day I try to do the above – and have taken that passion to start this blog, to teach boot camp part time and to start now my third Facebook health and wellness challenge with another group of fabulous people.
But another big part of me is what I do professionally – at a women’s shelter in Halton. No, I am not a counselor – I leave that job to the highly equipped! I am the woman behind the big events, the fundraising and the media promotion. Although stressful, I love that I have become an advocate and it has shaped my role as the mom of 2 boys, too.
So this week, I dedicate my blog to the crisis that is – and has been – in front of us. Just a few days ago – in our community of Hamilton – another woman, Holly Hamilton, was killed and her ex-boyfriend has been charged with her murder. They have a 4-year-old daughter whose life is forever changed.
In Oakville, a man shot his wife and himself – same week.
My heart feels so heavy. And yet, this is not a new phenomenon. Women have been abused at the hands of partners and ex-partners for as long as time has ticked.
It’s 2018 and enough is enough.
We won’t end violence against women in our generation. But we need to work harder than ever so we can move towards the end. In Holly Hamilton’s case, her ex boyfriend was once charged in assaulting her and got 90 days in jail. 90 days. He continued to stalk and harass her. Now she’s dead.
I truly believe that the ONLY way we will ever end violence against women is by educating our children. If the stats say 1 in 4 women will be abused in their lifetime, think of all those kids in YOUR kids’ classrooms who are living in those homes…whose first understanding of love is equal to power, control, abusive words, screaming, fear, emotional threats…physical altercations.
We need a continual discussion and learning for kids of ALL ages on what healthy relationships look like, what sexual harassment is and how they all can play a part in being a part of the solution that ends violence against women. These kids need to know that if they are living in these households, they do NOT have to follow in these footsteps…that is NOT their future. There are places to go to for help, phone numbers to call, people to talk to.
More than ever, we need to engage young boys and men to be male allies. To stand up for what is right on their playgrounds, in their classrooms, locker rooms, parties and campuses.
We need their voices!
Monday to Friday from 9am-5pm, my work centers on engaging the community, raising much-needed funds, creating partnerships and trying to make a change. But when I close my office door I open a bigger, more important one as I pick up my boys.
My job really starts then and will never stop. I talk to my sons all the time about respect, consent, love and what is happening in the world today. They are 9 and 11.
They are lucky. They have parents who love each other, show respect to each other – no family is perfect but what they are seeing and hearing at home will provide a good foundation.
You may not have that home. I understand. But that’s even more of a reason to talk to your children. And if you don’t have this at home, I hope for you that you stay safe.
I will never ask, why didn’t she leave? There has never been, nor will there ever be, a good enough answer. She doesn’t leave because of love…yes, love…fear, shame, guilt, the unknown, her kids, her pets, her family, her financial security….
Don’t ask, why doesn’t she just leave? Ask, what can be done to keep her safe? Ask, how can I be a part of the solution?
Demand more from the justice system.
Demand more from the Ministry of Education to implement specific curriculum about healthy relationships. (In Halton, Halton Women’s Place has a Public Education Program that has licensed teachers – including two male educators in classrooms…but funding is needed to be in more classes!)
Demand more from our workplaces to take care of those women who are missing work because of the abuse.
There is so much we can all do. We just need to do it. Do it for all those women who are living in abuse, for all those who have lost their lives…and for the children – like Holly Hamilton’s 4 year old daughter, who will grow up without her mother because she could not be protected enough from a man she once loved.