Talking the talk and walking the walk

Participants in the Women’s Silent no More Walk make their way down Central Avenue on Saturday. -- Jason Kerr/Daily Herald.

Brenda Roberts witnessed violence in her own home from almost the very beginning.

It only stopped when she left her hometown with her mother more than 35 years ago. On Saturday, the longtime Prince Albert resident was out walking in hopes that the next generation would never have to go through what she did.

“I have a daughter of my own,” she said. “I’m finding that to prevent violence, you have to teach a life of non-violence.”

Roberts was one more than a dozen people who came out for the Women’s Silent No More Walk in Prince Albert. The goal of the event is to encourage women to speak out about abuse and violence they suffer in the home, and according to Roberts, that’s not happening nearly enough.

“I’m pessimistic because of the high number of young ladies under 30 years old who are experiencing violence in the home, violence in their relationships and high school,” she said.

Roberts isn’t the only survivor who has concerns. Patricia Crowe, who co-founded the advocacy group Rise Up against Abuse and helped coordinate Saturday’s event, said there needs to be a shakeup going forward.

“It’s not easy to start addressing abuse within your families,” she said. “Those are very difficult, hard things and a lot of women don’t make it through. From a perspective of violence, it can tear our communities apart.”

Like Roberts, Crowe was first abused as a young girl. She doesn’t like to use the term victim, and as an adult she encourages women who suffered through abuse to reclaim their power and tell their own stories. Events like Saturday are part of individual healing, but that’s just one part of the overall process.

Over the past few years, Crowe has had the opportunity to sit on a number of panels, commission and roundtables that looked at strategies for preventing violence against women. At a community level, she said there needs to be more respect for the role of women as mothers and caregivers, but also more respect for the role of men.

Many communities have lost that mutual respect, she explained, but she’s determined to do what she can to bring it back.

“The statistic is not going to change for me,” Crowe said. “I will always be that statistic, but we can affect change for the next generations. Everything that we’re doing in terms of empowering ourselves, making healthier choices, is going to affect those children.”

That’s where the current battle is for walkers like Roberts. She’s concerned that too many young children see violence as an acceptable way to solve problems due to experiences at home.

So far she’s disappointed in the response from the various levels of government, and with how the issue is portrayed in the media. Nevertheless, she’s committed to moving forward, one step at a time, no matter how long it takes.

“It doesn’t have to be that way,” she said.

@kerr_jas •