Surrey’s Rakhi Project: Domestic abuse is only shameful if you keep it secret

Published: July 6, 2014

Domestic violence victim Sherri-Lee Woycik speaks at the Beta Collective, as the City of Surrey launches its fourth annual Rakhi project. Gerry Kahrmann / PNG

LARISSA CAHUTE 
VANCOUVER DESI

Because he never physically hit her, Surrey’s Sherri-Lee Woycik wouldn’t accept that she was in an abusive relationship.

“I should be grateful that he doesn’t punch me, didn’t drink, didn’t cheat on me,” she thought at the time.

“What have I got to complain about? It’s not that bad — I’m just too sensitive.”

But the physical threats were there — towards her, and her children.

“I was afraid most of the time,” she said. “It was really an environment of fear and terror and paranoia.

“Extremely abusive emotionally and financially and spiritually.”

And while she stayed in the relationship “for a long time,” she finally managed to find a way out. Today, settled in Surrey with her kids, she’s started her own business and wants to help raise awareness on domestic abuse, so she got involved with the City of Surrey’s fourth annual Rakhi initiative, which officially kicked off last month.

The crime-reduction strategy designed to raise awareness around the issues of domestic abuse stems from the traditional South Asian Rakhi celebration that honours the relationship between brothers and sisters. A sister ties a purple rakhi thread-bracelet around her brother’s wrist as a symbol of love and respect and the brother wears it to show he stands with his sister against domestic abuse.

As part of the Surrey-based project, purple braided bracelets are sold at a number of local businesses, and this year there’s the addition of purple umbrellas, which will pop up in locations throughout the city to mark Rakhi-related events. Woycik shared her story at one of these events last Thursday at Beta Collective.

“I want to support women who are leaving abusive relationships,” said Woycik. “One of the reasons why I stayed was because I didn’t feel like I had a lot of options.”

“I look back now and there were so many times that I should have left … I want women to know how many options they have in life.”

Councilor Barinder Rasode ties a Rakhi bracelet on Jason Wong, from Beta Collective, as the City of Surrey launches its fourth annual Rakhi project. Gerry Kahrmann / PNG

And it was this kind of community dialogue that Surrey councillor Barinder Rasode set out to create when she spearheaded the Rakhi Project four years ago.

“The more people you have engaged, not only talking about an issue, but adding their perspective to it — it gets closer to finding solutions,” said Rasode.

The campaign has continued to grow since its inaugural year when it was only partnered with two local businesses, but today “everybody sort of wants to be a part of it,” said Rasode.

“Now we have had requests from all sorts of … not only businesses, but non-profits,” she said. “To me, it means that we have at least made some progress in saying that everybody sees it as something that we need to be talking about and raising awareness on.”

While Woycik admits humiliation kept her from asking for help in her abusive relationship, she hopes her story and newfound perspective will encourage women to speak up sooner.

“The only reason why it’s shameful is because you keep it a secret,” she said. “As soon as you stop being silent about it, it stops being shameful.”

Rakhi bracelets can be purchased for $5 at a number of Surrey businesses, with proceeds going towards the Surrey Coalition Against Domestic Abuse. For more information on upcoming Rakhi events visit Surrey.ca.

Related stories:

lcahute@theprovince.com
twitter.com/larissacahute


Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,





Featured

varsha

Ontario teen fighting superbugs with an assist from Indian home cooking

TOM SPEARS OTTAWA CITIZEN Like a lot of great discoveries, Varsha Jayasankar’s foray into how to kill superbugs with an extract from Indian food started…
Continue Reading »

File photo: Oli Scarff/Getty Images

Low caste teen in India burnt alive after goats stray into neighbours’ field

CEN AGENCY A poor goat herder was burnt to death after greedy land owners doused him in petrol and set him ablaze because his goats…
Continue Reading »

Police are investigated a suspected murder in Surrey, B.C.

Police investigating suspected homicide in Surrey

SURREY NOW Police say an autopsy will be required to determine how Surrey’s 14th homicide of 2014 died. The body of the victim, a man…
Continue Reading »

LOCAL NEWS

varsha

Ontario teen fighting superbugs with an assist from Indian home cooking

TOM SPEARS OTTAWA CITIZEN Like a lot of great discoveries, Varsha Jayasankar’s foray into how to kill superbugs with an extract from Indian food started…
Continue Reading »

Police are investigated a suspected murder in Surrey, B.C.

Police investigating suspected homicide in Surrey

SURREY NOW Police say an autopsy will be required to determine how Surrey’s 14th homicide of 2014 died. The body of the victim, a man…
Continue Reading »

Today in History – Oct. 20

Advance THE CANADIAN PRESS Today in History for Oct. 20: On this date: In 1632, Sir Christopher Wren, British astronomer and architect, was born. He…
Continue Reading »

Don't Miss...

MINOR ATACKED

False confession leads police to arrest new suspect in sexual assault of 9-year-old Surrey girl

FRANK LUBA VANCOUVER DESI A man who confessed to the sexual assault of a nine-year-old girl in Surrey has been released and a 28-year-old man…
Continue Reading »

Dilwali Fest

Diwali Fest kicks off with IndiGlam fashion-fusion show (w/ video)

LARISSA CAHUTE VANCOUVER DESI It was a classic mother-daughter argument that propelled Surrey’s Raji Khaira into a career of fashion design. Khaira, 25, grew up…
Continue Reading »

Vancouver Desi

Canada Place caught the eye of man who builds models in chalk (w/gallery)

LARISSA CAHUTE VANCOUVER DESI When Jagdeep Singh Bihal moved to Vancouver from India two years ago and did some sightseeing around the city,  it was…
Continue Reading »

SURREY-VANCOUVER-MUMBAI

Diwali organizer inspired by memories of Mumbai revelry

LARISSA CAHUTE VANCOUVER DESI Vancouver’s Rohit Chokhani can still recall his childhood in Mumbai when Indian streets would light up with fireworks and life would…
Continue Reading »

SURREY-PIRATE RADIO

Surrey’s unlicensed Radio India to cease broadcasting in 120 days

PETER O’NEIL POSTMEDIA NEWS GATINEAU, Que. — One of B.C.’s “Pirate Radio” broadcasters boasted earlier this month of his powerful political connections, a vast public…
Continue Reading »


Bollywood Latest

Desi boobs Sonakshi SInha

Sonakshi Sinha enjoyed Tamil film debut with Lingaa

IANS Chennai  – Actress Sonakshi Sinha, who is making her Tamil debut opposite superstar Rajinikanth in upcoming Tamil actioner Lingaa, says she thoroughly enjoyed working…
Continue Reading »

Priyanka Chopra

Gallery: 20 Bollywood celebrities in their best and worst avatars

VANCOUVER DESI Every Bollywood star has come under fire for their style choices at  some point in their careers. Here we’ve taken a quick look…
Continue Reading »

reality TV

Himesh Reshammiya to record songs with reality show ‘India’s Raw Star’ contestants

IANS Mumbai – Composer Himesh Reshammiya, who made an appearance on the reality TV show “India’s Raw Star” as a guest mentor, was so moved…
Continue Reading »