CORNER BROOK For the first time in probably a long time “Lisa” felt safe sitting in the darkness on a park bench.
The scattered light from a car passing by showed tears running down her cheek.
“I walked for the 16 people in my family,” she said.
Then she paused.
“I tell you, I couldn’t scream hard enough.”
On Friday night, she chanted with about 30 women marching in the Take Back the Night event at Margaret Bowater Park, raising awareness of violence against women.
“It feels good to let it out,” she said. “I like to talk about it because it relieves so much pain.”
Lisa came from a family of 16, where all siblings suffered a range of physical, emotional and sexual abuse from their father.
As her story unfolds, Lisa, an average-looking middle-aged woman, turns into as shell of herself as she shares a lifetime of trauma.
She and her 15 siblings were bounced from around from foster home to foster home by “the system”.
And it seems like the cycle of abuse never ends, she said.
Three of the last four men she has been involved with were abusive toward her.
“There’s something inside me, because of my upbringing or whatever ... I always attract the men that are alcoholics, drug addict, abusers.”
But then, she comes back with statements so strong you would never know the guilt and shame she feels.
“Within me, I knew I was a good person and I never deserved none of this.”
Lisa said she would not have been able to manage without the support of Transition House, a temporary shelter for women in crisis, that she has turned to off-and-on for the past decade.
“That’s what brought me where I am today, to get help and try to get grips,” she said. “You can pick up the phone and they’re there.”
It is the support of the shelter and other counselling services to which she attributes the strength to take part in her first Take Back the Night march.
Take Back the Night was for Lisa.
It was also for half of Canadian women who have survived instances of sexual or physical violence. And also, for 29 per cent of Canadian women have been assaulted by a spouse, says the Canadian Research Institute for the Advancement of Women.
The women marched from Grenfell Campus to the court house on Mount Bernard Avenue and ended up at the park.
That is where some men joined them.
Paula Sheppard Thibeau said girls from a young age are socialized to fear sexual assault and feel comfort in having a man’s presence.
The main message is that all women should be able to walk and feel safe without the presence of a man.
“This is a time for women to walk without the protection of men and not fear assault,” explained the executive director of the Corner Brook Status of Women Council. “We should not have that fear.”