International Women’s Day is a day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women and girls.
“It was extremely difficult for female victims of gender-based violence to reach out during the height of the pandemic in New Brunswick,” Lise Cormier said at a press conference marking International Women’s Day on Monday.
“Female victims were unable to call due to being in isolation with their abusers.”
Cormier, the president of the Beauséjour Family Crisis Resource Centre, said now that COVID-19 cases have decreased, more victims are coming in to the women’s shelter and seeking support. But it’s also not as easy because sometimes the shelter staff have to meet virtually as opposed to in person.
At the press conference, the centre also launched the virtual 2021 edition of ‘Run for Women,’ a primary fundraiser for the shelter, raising money to continue its operations.
The cause hits home for one of the new ambassadors of the run — the head of Dialogue NB.
“My mom was a victim of spousal abuse,” Nadine Duguay-Lemay told reporters after sharing her story with the audience. “Even though I don’t have much memory of it, I have seen the long-lasting impact it has had on her.”
“Myself, I have been a victim of sexual abuse at numerous times of my life.”
She’s only started speaking out about her past trauma over the last five years.
But she found her voice through therapy, healing and the MeToo movement.
“There’s a shame that comes with being a victim,” she said. “And to get into the healing process is also to stop being ashamed of what has happened, and to turn the light on the predators.”
Cormier, on behalf of the Beauséjour Family Crisis Resource Centre, said there’s been an increase in physical attacks, forced confinement and sexual abuse during the pandemic.
“Perpetrators use the pandemic and public health restrictions to further abuse and control their female victims due to forced confinement in their home,” she said.
“A global pandemic existed long before this virus — and it is the many women and girls that have been murdered in this country.”
Cormier said New Brunswick has the highest rate of murder-suicide in the country.
“More women are being killed by their partners than in any other Maritime province,” she said.
That needs to change, Duguay-Lemay said.
“We keep hearing about these statistics over and over and over,” she said. “I, for one, am sick and tired of this.”
“Long-term systemic change needs concerted action,” Duguay-Lemay said.
An important message that she hopes helps create meaningful change. She’s hoping others will share their experiences with violence and abuse also “to come forward, to take advantage of resources at the centre like this.”
“Honestly, I’m doing it for my mom,” she said, “so that we break the cycle of inter-generational trauma.”
Marking International Women’s Day noting there’s a long way to go to achieve gender equality.