When you can’t escape

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A group of local residents gathered at the Chatham-Kent Women’s Centre last week to remember women who died through violence during the last year.

In the interest of full disclosure for those reading this, I am one of three male board members on the Chatham-Kent Women’s Centre.

It wasn’t that long ago that a male member on the board was unheard of. The “shelter” as it was known, was hidden from people of my gender.

Chatham Mazda from Chatham Voice on Vimeo.

Only those who had to know (police, for example) had an inkling of what the building was or what it stood for.

Inside, shame matched hurt stride for stride. Admitting you were a victim was an admission of failure. That’s no longer the case, although the journey to freedom from abuse can still be a long and difficult one.

When I’ve been asked why I joined, the answer is simple. Men are responsible for most domestic violence and we need to be part of the solution.

On a chilly night last week I was attending the annual candlelight vigil commemorating women who have been killed during the past year for no reason other than they were women.

I went as a board member but agreed to take a few photos for the Voice.

I’ve done that in the past for a number of other organizations I’ve been involved with – it’s a function of being in a relatively small town with an undeniably small staff, as an independent newspaper.

It’s a kind of bending of the rule that journalists must remain detached but it’s the kind of thing that’s happened to anyone who’s worked in the business for any length of time.

This time was different. I became fully involved.

When the names of the victims were read aloud and the candles signifying their lives were snuffed out, it made the night just a little colder.

When the poem “please don’t put me in a box” was read, the realization of what these women went through as they died at the hands of the men in their lives made me numb.

There are times for rallies, hundreds or thousands of people waving signs and chanting slogans.

There are other times, such as this, that quiet emotion is so much more effective.

The silence as we walked away into the night was more eloquent than any speech.

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