From left are Emaya, Lynn Andersen, Hope Heyduck and Paula Rodriguez de la Vega doing the break-the-chain dance at the One Billion Rising V-Day event at Medici’s Gelateria on February 14.
Lyonel Doherty photo
Ten years ago Pat Whalley’s daughter had to make a decision – to take a bullet from her abusive partner or jump through a window to escape. She chose the latter and ended up in a body cast for months; but she was alive.
For Whalley, last week’s “One Billion Rising” V-Day rally at Medici’s Gelateria in Oliver was a proud but bittersweet 60 minutes. It brought back the memory of her daughter’s nightmare, but it made her proud to join the global V-Day movement to end violence against women and girls.
“There are a lot of women who have no one (to turn to). This really means a lot to us,” said Whalley, who organized a raffle to raise money ($1,936.55) for the cause.
V-Day Oliver-Osoyoos co-organizer Paula Rodriguez de la Vega said the rally on February 14 was standing room only, which proves how important the issue is.
She said “One Billion Rising” began as a call to action based on the staggering statistic that one in three women on the planet will be beaten or raped during her lifetime. With the world population at seven billion, this adds up to more than one billion women and girls, she pointed out.
Members of the Oliver-Osoyoos group demand change and rise up in defiance of the injustices women suffer.
“It is a call to men and women to refuse to participate in the status quo until rape and rape culture ends,” de la Vega said.
She told the Chronicle that she personally knows women who have been beaten and raped in abusive relationships. “Violence is very real here in Oliver.”
Roxie Van Aller, executive director of Desert Sun Counselling and Resource Centre, said 52 per cent of women in BC have experienced spousal abuse at least one time in their lives. And 35 assaults take place before the police are involved in the relationship, she said, citing a wife abuse report. Many assaults are never reported, she added.
Van Aller noted that girls (between the age of 12 and 15) are at greatest risk of sexual assault by a family member.
Locally, Desert Sun had 68 referrals last year and provided 42 nights of “Safe Home” shelter for women and children. Seven women and one child were sheltered in the last three months.
“We never really have enough funds to meet the demand, but we never turn anyone away,” Van Aller said.
Local businesswoman and writer Ursula Wick read a powerful monologue by Eve Ensler, founder of the award winning play “The Vagina Monologues.”
Darlene George, who works for the Osoyoos Indian Band, told organizers that First Nations women are five times more likely to experience rape and/or domestic violence than other Canadian women.
V-Day Oliver-Osoyoos is hosting a benefit production of The Vagina Monologues at the Osoyoos Mini-Theatre on April 6. All proceeds go to Desert Sun Counselling and Resource Centre. Tickets can be purchased at Beyond Bliss and Lady O’s Fitness in Oliver.