By Melissa Di Nardo
One-in-four women are assaulted by their partners, reports Alternatives for Women in Prince Edward County.
Alternatives for Women is dedicated to providing a safe and confidential place with services geared towards ending violence against women and healing those who survive.
“Every week, two women are killed by their intimate partners,” reports Alternatives in one of their pamphlets.
Surviving women are very empowering, full of healing. Healing is the main objective for executive director Rahno Godfrey.
Godfrey and her team go into the community and help educate the public and younger generations about the effects that abuse has.
The team also educates women by telling them where they can receive safe and confidential help and legal advice.
Godfrey is very familiar with the area since she has been working in the area for over a decade at Three Oaks shelter in Belleville.
“We do safety planning with every woman who walks through that door,” said Godfrey. This is one of the first steps for survivors who try and reach out for help.
“When you find the courage to step out of the darkness, you will either be given a solid foundations to stand on or wings to fly,” advised Godfrey to all woman who are dealing with domestic abuse in silence.
Asked what were red flags of abuse and how to help women from being abused, Godfrey said,
“What might you see now is constant text messaging, checking up on you. Where are you? Who you talking to? Who are you with? So and so saw you!
“Maybe she is wearing long sleeves and inappropriate clothing in warm weather. Maybe you invite her out with all the girls from school all the time and she is like ‘I can’t go. I got to get going.’ Her eyes are darting, she is very nervous and anxious and she has to get going. She has to check this text, she just has to get back to him. You know? Those are some things you might want to go ‘Hmm. What’s going on there?’”
“‘Is it that you just don’t like me?’ Or is there something else going on?”
It always starts out with looks and gestures but quickly progresses,” explained Godfrey.
“He moves quick and he occupies all your time, starts putting your friends down. He doesn’t want you going out. He wants you to chose him over your friends and family and he accuses you of choosing them over him.”
“Women are not property,” said Godfrey as a message to aggressors who don’t see the harm in their actions.
One of the first steps to awareness is communication and to know that you do have a choice, a choice to be safe.
“The reason it continues in silence is because people don’t talk about it. The reason that it happens is because people don’t talk about it.” said Deborah Raymond, a therapist at the sexual assault centre in Belleville.
Raymond, who is a group facilitator for the sexual assault centre, said the centre is geared towards healing the survivor — both male and female.
“We help them to remove some of that distortion and bring in healthier thoughts about themselves. We offer that to them, but they have to do the work on their own.”
Helping a survivor to see what kind of woman she can become is a beautiful rebirth to witness. “Speak up because you matter and you deserve to live a life free of violence,” said Raymond.
You can reach the Alternatives for Women centre at (613) 476-4435 and speak to Rahno Godfrey about what your options are or even how to become more involved in saving someone who could be suffering in silence.
There is also the 24-hour crisis line available in case of an emergency at (613) 476-2787.