REID: Surrey’s Rakhi Project a reminder of my own domestic abuse

It was convenient that we had blackberry bushes at the side of our home growing up. It was how my mom would explain the cuts on her face.

Convenient probably isn’t the right word.

When her boyfriend hurt her, there was a myriad of excuses I heard her use.

That was just one.

Glass breaking. The dog barking. My mother screaming. My brother crying.

It was the norm at my home for a time.

I called the police during a fight on more than one occasion. They would come, but a stern warning was all he ever faced.

He didn’t seem bad at first.

He would help me with my homework. He would celebrate my school and athletic achievements. He’d watch all our favourite shows with my brother and I. He would build tree forts for us. He was kind.

Then something changed.

Funny, that’s always the way these stories start.

So as a child, I witnessed abuse. Then, as a young adult, before I met the man with whom I have two children, I let it into my life.

It was short-lived, and I left the relationship, but I always swore that would never be me. After all, how could someone possible stay with someone who hurt them?

But there I was.

Being there firsthand made me understand both how easy it is to wind up in such a relationship, and how hard it is to get out of one.

A domestic-abuse awareness campaign is currently underway in Surrey. I urge you to pay attention.

Pay attention to warning signs. I fell down the stairs. I closed a door on my arm. I fell into blackberry bushes.

Nobody gets hurt that often on their own.

And I ask you to be understanding. I’ve been asked why I didn’t leave the first time he hurt me. It’s not as easy to escape as some might think.

Abusers don’t typically go away quietly when you decide to kick them to the curb or flee. They’ve lost control and that’s often what they thrive on.

Earlier this year, a Surrey woman lost her life in what may have been a domestic dispute.

As a reporter, I covered that death.

As I stood outside the RCMP E-Division building after the press conference, I bumped into Surrey Sgt. Dale Carr. He told me the Domestic Violence Unit was "very engaged" with the couple.

My heart sank.

The suspect, Gordon Alexander David, has been charged with manslaughter and aggravated assault. The case has yet to go through the courts.

In an abusive relationship, you never think they’ll take it that far. But who are we to know what others are capable of?

The fifth annual Surrey campaign, the Rakhi Project, kicked off in Newton last week and runs to Aug. 29.

Rakhi is a South Asian ceremony that involves the tying of a "rakhi" (thread) by a sister on her brother’s wrist as a symbol of love, protection and respect.

The Rakhi Project combines this tradition with domestic-abuse awareness by encouraging people to wear a purple bracelet. This year’s bracelets are $5, with proceeds going to the Surrey Coalition Against Domestic Abuse (SCADA).

As a community, we can work together to help those suffering from abuse. Help spread awareness by taking part in this year’s campaign.

Being able to see the warning signs and knowing how to get victims help is a step we can all take.

They need our help.

You can find Rakhi bracelets at Save-on Foods, Fruiticana, Surrey RCMP offices, DiverseCity Community Resources Society, select Vancity locations, Crystalworks and Take Five Café at Surrey City Hall.

Amy Reid is a staff writer with the Now. She can be reached by email at areid@thenownewspaper.com.

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