At a recent Oceanside Women’s Business Network’s (OWBN) members dinner meeting, Parksville business woman Bonnie Wallis revealed her story of surviving domestic violence with the help of a women’s shelter, to the surprise of those who have known her for many years, according to an OWBN news release.
The evening was celebrating change makers, those amazing people and organizations who make a difference in people’s lives who find themselves in tough situations.
More than just a business networking group, OWBN said it supports Haven Society and invited the society as one of those change makers to receive a $500 cheque from fundraising efforts.
Anne Taylor, the executive director of Haven Society — which runs Haven House in Parksville — was on hand to present information about the work they do, which is to promote the safety of women, children, youth and their families in the mid-Island.
Taylor shared disturbing statistics about domestic violence in the region, and described how people could help, by donating or volunteering, or by listening and supporting those in jeopardy. When asked about success stories from Haven and other shelters, she invited Wallis to the podium, much to the surprise of attendees. Wallis owns a local accounting firm and significantly contributes to the local community.
“I didn’t want my experience or anybody else’s to be hushed up, or spoken of in whisper tones,” she said. “It perpetuates the ability for the violence to continue. People need to talk.”
Wallis said wanted to let women know that they don’t have to stay in unfortunate circumstances. Haven Society is there to help women and children when they make the tough decision to escape.
“I am thrilled that Bonnie shared her story,” Taylor said. “People can now put a face to the problem, someone they know and respect, and realize that this can happen to anybody.”
Taylor went on to explain that society in general still has a stigma about domestic violence. When people see someone in a violent situation, they wonder first about the woman. Why doesn’t she leave? They don’t understand the fear, guilt and shame that woman can feel. Instead, Taylor said, we need to ask, why is he being abusive, and how can we stop him, or get him help.
OWBN president, Barb Ashcroft commented on Wallis’ story. “I’ve known Bonnie for many years, and had no idea of her past trauma. I’m so proud that she felt compelled to stand up and share her important message with the ladies in our network, and now to the community at large.”
Parksville Qualicum Haven House is a program delivered by Haven Society in collaboration with the Society of Organized Services (SOS). The house provides temporary shelter to women and children who have experienced violence and are seeking safety while exploring their options.
For more information contact OWBN’s Ashcroft at 250-752-5499 or firstname.lastname@example.org, Haven’s Taylor at 250-756-2452 ext. 243 or
email@example.com, and Wallis at firstname.lastname@example.org, 250-586-1934.
— NEWS Staff/OWBN news release