Naomi’s Family Resource Centre

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by Deborah Thomson, CEO

Naomi’s Family Resource Centre is a stage one woman’s shelter located in Winchester, and serves women and children fleeing violence and abuse in SD&G counties, as well as those from the Leeds and Grenville area, and the greater Ottawa area. Naomi’s House, as some would call it, has been supporting women and families who are actively seeking a change in their circumstances since 1987.

Violence and abuse are defined many ways, and I know that, when we hear those words, we conjure up pictures in our minds about what it looks like.

The World Health Organization defines Violence against women as a major public and clinical health problem, and a violation of women’s human rights, particularly intimate partner violence and sexual violence.  It is rooted in and perpetuates gender inequalities.

Globally, 1 in 3 women experience physical and/or sexual violence in their lifetime, mostly by an intimate partner. This is a stark reminder of the scale of gender inequality and discrimination against women.

Women who decide to make the change from a life of violence or abuse, no matter where it stems from, are courageous.  Often, women may plan an escape with their children at a time when opportunity arises, and they go! They go fast and don’t look back. They are fearful and unsure of what the next few days or weeks will bring. So many questions, fearful to fail. Perhaps they attempted to leave before but, for whatever reason, couldn’t do it. Fearful of how they will provide for themselves and the kids. Fearful of what life will look like.

Years ago, our communities got together and built a refuge, a safe place for women and children to go to, to breathe, to collect themselves and not have to constantly worry about another vulgar word hurled at them, another screaming session, another blow to the body in front of the kids …and we continue to maintain that place of refuge to this day.

Over the years, Naomi’s has provided a safety net to thousands of people, (we serve, on average, 100 women and 50 children annually).

I sometimes reflect on why we still continue to see such pain in our society when, in many ways, we are more educated, we talk about women’s issues more broadly and early in our school years. We talk about the ‘right’ way to speak or to act, we define what is “inappropriate” all the time. There are social service agencies, groups, congregations, internet, literature, courses, lived experience – all there to aid us in learning early to avoid repeating the cycle, or for that matter, getting into the cycle in the first place. So why does violence against women still happen? Why do 33% of all women in the world experience physical and/or sexual violence in their lifetime?

There is no one definitive answer. It is highly complex and different for each person. International Women’s Day (IWD), celebrated in the month of March since 1909, became an annual event in 2010, and seeks to remind us of how we can better our society by learning more, become advocates for those who are vulnerable, address societal change, and be a catalyst with local, provincial, and federal policy makers.

The IWD theme for 2022 is #Break the Bias. We are asked to consider the following:

– Imagine a gender equal world.

– A world free of bias, stereotypes, and discrimination.

– A world that is diverse, equitable, and inclusive.

– A world where difference is valued and celebrated.

– Together we can forge women’s equality.

Naomi’s Family Resource Centre (www.naomiscentre.ca) is active in our community, believes in partnerships, realizes that we cannot do this work alone, and invites you, the reader, to spend a few moments learning about how we can collectively #BreakTheBias.

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