Take Back the Night empowers, educates
“No one can make you feel inferior without your consent,” is one quote that helped Sheila Picknell during her recovery after escaping an abusive marriage and leaving a subsequent abusive relationship.
As one of the guest speakers at the Take Back the Night march in Tillsonburg Thursday, Sept. 21, Picknell used several appropriate quotes to describe how women can learn to regain their courage and heal after being a victim of a violent situation.
“Inhale courage; exhale fear,” is something Picknell said several times, while describing that she fell in with a tough group of friends as a young teen, started to use drugs and left home at age 15. She was raped by someone she thought was a friend, but never told anyone what had happened.
Picknell has been able to find outlets for her emotions as a member of Survivors Voices Oxford and writing a play, “Unlocking Your Potential” to inspire those moving from victim to victor.
“The fact is, we need to feel safe inside and outside our homes,” Picknell told the group of about 50 participants.
The group met at the clock tower at Broadway and Bridge Streets for the program before marching on the street, with police escort, along Broadway to Baldwin and back around to the Station Arts Centre.
Tillsonburg's Deputy Mayor Dave Beres addressed a miscommunication that at first had the Take Back the Night committee believing they would not be able to march on the street, but only the sidewalk. It was mid-afternoon Thursday when the approval was given to march on the street.
“This issue is certainly supported by this community,” said Beres. “You are welcome here. The OPP are here and there will be a march tonight.”
Emcee Doris Weir introduced special guest Suzanne Jackson, a member of the Metis Nation and Ontario Women's Council, who was accompanied by her granddaughter, a shy young girl who hid in Jackson's robe. Jackson said everything she does in her work for the empowerment of women is guided by her granddaughter so that she may grow up in a world where violence against women isn't an issue.
Jackson offered the group a Metis prayer and explained that in Anishinabe history, the story of Mother Earth was the first to delineate gender – which teaches that women should come first. She also performed a smudging ceremony for each of the people in attendance.
Sixteen-year-old Emily Holden also shared her story, explaining how she felt safe until she was raped at age 15 on Canada Day in Kitchener. She was drugged and held the victim of fear for some time. Holden also told no one about the incident, and has worked hard to overcome and be able to share her story at events such as Take Back the Night.
Oxford County Warden David Mayberry said he knows there is a need to bring attention to the issue of violence against women and sexual assault, but he doesn't understand it – having never been exposed to it as he was growing up in a home where each person was equal to the others.
“The disturbing reality is that we live in a society that suffers from the barbaric behaviour of some,” he said “There can be no place for violence in our home or community.”