Can­dles lit for vic­tims

Whitsunday Times - - LOCAL NEWS -

“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

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