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Women reminded: 'There is life after abuse’

Crystal Swan, the executive officer at Government House, and Rena Lalgie, the Governor, mark the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, November 25, 2021 (Photograph by Fiona McWhirter)

Women were reminded that “there is life after abuse” during an anti-domestic violence event last week.

Crystal Swan, the Executive Officer at Government House, said that she knew people who overcame their experiences and achieved new goals.

She was speaking on Thursday – the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women.

Ms Swan said: “I’ve seen growth in females that I know who have been going through some really rough times.

“They have reignited their inner flame and have emerged into business owners and even obtaining degrees, so that is why this year the focus is – there is life after abuse.”

She told a group of women at Government House that her work to mark the global awareness day started three years ago with "basic education and signs of abuse in its many forms“.

Ms Swan said: “The second year we enhanced the collaboration of the agencies on island and we formulated Hive Bermuda, which is Healing Individuals from Violence and Emotional Abuse.”

She added: “The blindness to violence against women has been that violence can only be domestic.

“A woman can only be abused if a man physically hurts her, right?

“But what about when an employer abuses a female employee? What about when a family member abuses a woman they are supposed to love and protect? What about when a friend abuses a female they should care for and respect?

“There is no level greater or less than that determines whether or not a woman has been abused.

“Mental, emotional, spiritual and financial abuse can all do damage to a woman just as much as physical abuse.

“Abuse is abuse no matter the level.

“I had to witness an emotionally abused child being told that they had no right to feel fear of the parent that was causing them distress because they had not been physically beaten every day.

“From that moment, that reinforced my commitment to being an advocate for all females, no matter the age, to empower them into living the life they deserve.”

Rena Lalgie, the Governor, welcomed people to the reception.

She said: “Despite the restrictions, it is a pleasure to gather here with women from all walks of life who recognise that as mothers, daughters, sisters, aunts, friends, employers and employees we all have a role to play in eliminating violence against women and girls.

“It is recorded that nearly one in three women have been abused in their lives. One in three – that is far too many.

“During times of crisis, we know that these numbers rise and there has been evidence of that across the world during this pandemic.

“We all have a role to play in ensuring that violence against women and girls is no longer socially acceptable.

“I want to close by saying a heartfelt thank you to all the women and organisations that work tirelessly to ensure that we have the resources to prevent violence, that resources are available to protect and empower the victims and that we raise up survivors, so that every girl and woman here in Bermuda can realise their potential.”

A domestic abuse survivor told the gathering: “A lot of times we endure in silence.

“There are many of you that have gone ahead, based on what has happened in the last two years within our community, and broken your silence.

“That is where we find strength – in telling our stories and removing the stigma attached to domestic violence.

“It is not our fault, it is no reason to be ashamed, we have overcome, we are not shadows of our former selves, we have rebirthed ourselves.”

The event also included an “empowerment” poem from Aniyah Minors, a CedarBridge Academy student.

* For more information about Hive Bermuda, visithivebermuda.com. The Centre Against Abuse runs a 24-hour hotline on 297-8278.

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Published November 29, 2021 at 7:52 am (Updated November 29, 2021 at 7:39 am)

Women reminded: 'There is life after abuse’

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