The Ring

Je me souviens

Wed, 2012-11-07 10:50

On Dec. 6, 1989, a horrific act of violence took the lives of 14 women in Montréal. As a result, a private members bill was brought to parliament by Dawn Black, a BC politician, and a National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women was created. I remember.

But now, 23 years later, it’s simply not enough just to remember. I want to inspire you. I decided to share a little of how I overcame violence in my life. I hope to reach you on a personal level. For many, going beyond remembering is a matter of survival.

The picture is me at five. It used to make me sad to look at. I wonder: how could someone hurt this little child? When this picture was taken I was already shattered, disembodied; held together by self-preservation and compartmentalization. I buried the pain and let the horror inhabit me. This is true for many people who experience violence. I became complicit in my own abuse because I was silenced.

As I got older the dreams came, flashbacks, and anxiety attacks. I remember my father battering me. Daily abuse included slaps, bites, being touched and forced. I remember him trying to drown me, holding me upside down by my feet in the freezing November creek. I remember being hungry and sad.

And the pain did not end when we were free of my father, or years later when he died. There was no one event or person that “saved” me. Instead, it was a process that has become a daily practice of remembering, resisting and allowing love. Telling someone was the first step to my well-being. It started with a friend when I was 15 years old, then my aunt. At 24 I told my mother, and at 38 I told my daughters. Today I am telling you. I’m still amazed I told at all, in the midst of the façade of a “progressive” Canada—where nothing bad happens and children are safe in their homes; where racism, homophobia, colonialism, environmental violence, domestic violence, ageism and ableism are things of the past; where bad things happen to “others.” How was I supposed to tell the truth, when no one else was?

For years the abuse dictated the patterns of all my relationships. I carried it. I was ashamed of my body. I was angry and afraid. But today what hurts is not that my family didn’t know how to help me, it’s the culture of impunity we are all creating: a culture that requires silence and continues to ignore violence.

Remembering is no longer enough. Violence, in all its forms, is a social crisis and a community issue. Showing up shows we care. Decide to come to the observation of National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women on Dec. 3. Honour the people who resist violence and work to create change. Make the time to bear witness to the phenomenon of violence in our society. Commit to taking direct action to end violence in our communities.

We, the Planning Committee, informed by consultations with members of the UVic community, ask the deans, faculty, staff and students to observe the cancellation of classes on Dec. 3, 2012 (11:30–12:30). Show your solidarity by attending the event. It’s not too great, or too late, if we do it together.


Renay Maurice is a student in the Women’s Studies and Creative Writing departments and a member of the UVic Planning Committee for the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women.


Views expressed in this article are the author’s and do not necessarily reflect those of The Ring or the University of Victoria.