Candles lit for victims
“IT TAKES one step to leave an abusive household or partner, one step to reach out for support, one step to recovery. The question is, will you take that step?”
This was the message from 19-year-old Keisha McEwan at last week’s candle-lighting ceremony in Airlie Beach.
At 6pm on Wednesday, Whitsunday residents joined with communities Australiawide in lighting candles for the women, children and men who have lost their lives as a result of domestic violence.
Keisha McEwan was just one of those present determined to make a difference by sharing her story.
“One woman a week in Australia dies at the hands of her current or former partner and three Australian women will be affected by domestic violence in their lifetime – that’s a woman like you or me, your daughter, your mum, or the lady that sold you a coffee with a smile, who you never would have pegged as having slept in a car last night because she was too scared to go home,” she told the crowd.
“Statistically, one of these women will die this week and I don’t think any women believe they will become an addition to these statistics.
“I thought I was exempt, I thought I was the exception to the rule
“I was not, (but) I am a survivor.”
In her 19 years of life, Ms McEwan has faced many adversities but she is a shining example of the light at the end of a very dark tunnel.
Last year she was selected as one of 40 people in Queensland to attend the Queensland Indigenous Youth Leadership program in Brisbane. This year she will return as one of just six selected mentors.
Keisha McEwan initiated and facilitated the Whitsundays’ first suicide prevention event, Walk out of the Shadows and Into the Light.
She completed a Certificate IV in Community Services and has already volunteered at many organisations in the community sector locally.
“They are just a few things I’ve done despite having gone through severe adversity,” she said.
“(But) I would not have been able to achieve any of this without stepping through the doors of the Whitsunday Crisis and Counselling Service.
“Speaking to someone who genuinely listened and cared made it possible for me to face these challenges, which is why I encourage you to speak up and reach out if you are a victim of domestic violence.”
The Whitsunday Crisis and Counselling Service can be contacted on 4946 2999.
SPEAKING OUT: WCCS counsellor Mandy Coles supports 19-year-old Keisha McEwan as she talks about surviving domestic violence. Photo: Sharon Smallwood