Memorial run helps abused women escape violent relationships
Kennebecasis Regional Police Force says many women provided assistance
Money raised in memory of Tanya Shand, who was fatally stabbed by her partner in 2013, has been used to help some two dozen other victims escape abusive relationships, according to the Kennebecasis Regional Police Force.
The Tanya Shand Memorial Milk and Cookie Run happens Saturday in Quispamsis.
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"Since the run's been going, and this is our third year, 100 per cent of the women that we've been able to help, have left their abusers and are living a safe and happy life," said Const. Kelley McIntyre, the woman's abuse co-ordinator with the police force.
"We have five cases ... where we strongly believe that there's potential for the women to be killed. And those five women have completely left the relationship."
McIntyre said at least 20 other women in bad situations have also received help.
"Even a simple gesture such as getting them a gas card to get to a counselling appointment is enough for somebody to say, 'Hey, I've got some support here, there's people behind me, I can do this.'"
Shand's surviving 10-year-old daughter is expected to be there Saturday, cheering on participants as they cross the finish line.
"She's a force to be reckoned with," says Cheyenne's aunt and guardian, Julie Shand Ryan.
"The perseverance out of that girl, it shows me you can go on."
Cheyenne was at home in the Dolan Road apartment when her 33-year-old mother was stabbed more than 21 times and her throat was cut.
Cheyenne's biological father, Adam Prest, faced charges of second degree murder.
He had not yet entered a plea when he died in jail.
"Honestly, it was a relief," said Ryan. "Because we were preparing a six-year-old for trial. As you can imagine, she was a witness, so she was going to have to take the stand."
Signs of trouble
Ryan recalled her sister showing signs of being fearful some two weeks before she was murdered on May 22.
"That week that she was killed, it was a Wednesday, and that Friday she was supposed to move in with us," Ryan said.
"Her cable bill was cancelled. Her cellphone was cancelled. She was coming to us."
Ryan said the memorial run also raises money to support education in local schools.
The police teach students how to recognize unhealthy relationships, how to assess risk within relationships and how to recognize abusive use of technology, including social media and cellphones.
The Kennebecasis force said over six months this year — Jan. 1 to June 1 — it received 80 calls in response to reports of intimate partner violence.
That marks an upswing from last year, when there were 112 calls in total.
Previous years have averaged about one call a day.
Police Chief Steve Palmer said it's a misconception to think domestic violence doesn't happen in affluent communities.
"We've certainly had plenty of calls to high end residences in our area," he said.
Asked if it's more difficult to intervene when a family is well known, or influential, or wealthy, Palmer said no.
"Our officers are all trained well. They believe in the law and they believe in enforcing the law fairly with everyone. So I don't feel in their minds, there's any influence one way or the other."
Remembering other victims
This weekend's run also remembers other victims of intimate partner violence in the province, including Alice Leadlay, an 80-year-old woman from Rothesay, who had dementia.
On Sept. 26, 2005, she was gagged and rolled up in a carpet by her husband and left on the living room floor overnight.
Melanie Davis from Saint John was handcuffed and brutally stabbed over 25 times on May 10, 2010, by her estranged husband.
Two years ago, 45-year-old Cindy Irving from Saint John was strangled to death by her husband.
The same year, 50-year-old Cathy Bawn was found dead inside a home on Red Head Road on June 30 following a double shooting.
And Gail Foster of Nauwigewauk was shot to death by her husband in October 2003.
Her car was packed with her belongings when her husband pulled the trigger.
The Tanya Shand run begins at 10 a.m. on Saturday, Sept. 16, at the Quispamsis qplex.