April 12-18, 2015 is Prevention of Violence Against Women
Week. As part of its efforts to focus attention on the ongoing issue of family
violence, and galvanize the community to take action to help prevent it, the
Kelowna Women’s Shelter submitted this article.
Imagine racing out of your home in
the middle of the night with your little ones in your arms. Fearfully fleeing
the partner who was supposed to love, respect and cherish you, but has instead
abused and hurt you and your children time and time again.
You have nothing but the clothes on
your back and the hard-won courage it took to finally leave a toxic relationship
that has left you beaten down, questioning yourself, and feeling alone and ashamed.
For many women in our community,
this scenario is an all too common reality. For those with limited options, the
Kelowna Women’s Shelter offers safe haven; providing housing, food, clothing, information,
and the counselling and support they need, all at no charge.
The Shelter has a long history in
the community. Its team of dedicated, highly-trained staff have helped thousands
of women and children get a fresh start and move towards a future free of abuse
since the Shelter opened its doors in 1980.
But thirty-five years later, the
problem of violence against women shows no signs of going away.
On average, every six days a woman
in Canada is killed by her intimate partner. Between 2004 and 2014, domestic
violence claimed the lives of 113 women in British Columbia, an average of 10
women a year.
Violence and abuse drive more than
100,000 women and children out of their homes and into Canadian shelters every
year. Last year more than 200 of them spent at least one night in the Kelowna
They are our neighbours, our
friends, our co-workers. Members of this community who attend school, shop for
groceries, attend church, and go to work. If you or someone you know needs
help, a safe place to stay or even just someone to talk to, contact the Shelter
All services are confidential, and counselling
staff are available 24-hours-a-day to do everything from providing a friendly
ear to creating a detailed safety plan. Because abuse is never okay, but asking
for help is!