March 10, 2017 8:48 am
Updated: March 10, 2017 6:58 pm

London Abused Women’s Centre hosts sold-out breakfast and auction

Over 600 people attended the 17th annual fundraiser in support of the London-based women's centre.

London Convention Centre/Twitter

The 17th annual International Women’s Day Breakfast and Auction in support of the London Abused Women’s Centre attracted a sold-out crowd of more than 600 people Friday morning at the London Convention Centre.

“One of the main messages I wanted to send was a message of hope,” said Judy Miller Rose, the fundraiser’s keynote speaker. “For people who are isolated and maybe going through these things, or for family members and friends that are watching people go through this, just to offer hope.”

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Rose is a domestic-abuse survivor. In 1983 – with the assistance of a young London police constable and her two young children in tow – she escaped horrific abuse inflicted by her ex-husband, who was charged with attempted murder. Years later, she learned the responding constable was Brent O’Shea, London’s former deputy chief.

“That day when I sat across from him, I had no oxygen coming across [my] vocal chords … I saved the subpoena that I was supposed to go to court, and I just handed [it to] him and said, ‘I’m here because of this.’ I couldn’t get any [words] to come out – it was just overwhelming. And every time I see Brent, that feeling comes back.”

Rose is now a published author and a counsellor with the London Abused Women’s Centre. She says society needs to recognize that abuse can happen to anyone at anytime.

“I think we need to break through the stigma of how these things happen, and that they only happen to some people, or some types of people,” she noted. “When we have a belief system and we’ve been raised that way – something comes along different, our brains don’t know what to do with that.”

London Abused Women’s Centre executive director Megan Walker said the event is vital to the organization because it helps provide services to women in need.

“We receive incredible support from the community of London and raise between $60,000 and $70,000 every year,” Walker said.

“All of that money goes right back into providing direct service. We’re one of a few counselling agencies in Ontario that guarantees women immediate access to service, so those funds are used to make sure that women never have to wait to be seen.”

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