Nfld. & Labrador

#NotOkayNL: Coalition launches campaign to end violence against women

Members of a coalition traveled around St. John’s in a white van Wednesday to spread what they say is a life or death message.
Alicia Legge, a domestic violence survivor, is sharing her story in the hopes that it will help other women in the province. (Meghan McCabe/CBC)

On the International Day to End Violence Against Women, members of the Coalition Against Violence-Avalon East travelled around St. John's in a white van to spread what they say is a life or death message: violence against women is going on all over the province, and it needs to stop before another woman is killed.

The campaign comes on the heels of Trevor Pardy's sentencing for the first-degree murder of Triffie Wadman, a high-profile example of violence against women. 

"What we're trying to do with the white van and our accompanying social media campaign #NotOkayNL is call attention to violence in Newfoundland and Labrador and get folks to speak out and speak up and say what's not okay," said Catherine Dwyer, the executive director of the coalition. 

Catherine Dwyer, the executive director of the Coalition Against Violence - Avalon East, says that violence against women is a serious issue in Newfoundland and Labrador. (Meghan McCabe/CBC )

Members say they hope to educate people around the province on proper consent, what abuse looks like, and how to treat each other with respect.

They also want to let people know that violence against women is an ongoing problem in this province.

"It's one in two women in Newfoundland and Labrador over the age of 15 that will experience some form of physical or sexual violence in their lifetime. That's a grim reality, and that's based on folks that actually come forward and report," said Dwyer.

If more women reported violence, Dwyer says, that number would likely climb even higher.

Respect is paramount

The Coalition Against Violence - Avalon East launched their #NotOkayNL campaign on Wednesday to mark the International Day to End Violence Against Women. (Meghan McCabe/CBC)

One woman who is speaking out against the violence is Alicia Legge, who said she was in an abusive relationship four years ago and that she feared for her life.

"I didn't know if my son was going to be in danger next, or if I was going to survive,"  she said.

But she escaped the situation, and now she's sharing her story to let other women know that they're not alone.

"We are human beings. We deserve to be treated with respect."

"The message out there for women is we're not less than. We are just as powerful, just as smart, intelligent, hard-working as any man." 

"If you have someone who's in your life that loves and respects you as a human being, they will treat you as an equal partner, they will never look at you as less than," said Legge.

16 days of activism

The actions on Wednesday coincided with the kickoff for a campaign caled 16 Days of Activism against Gender Violence. 

Over the course of the next two weeks, the group will share more pieces of information online, using the hashtag #NotOkayNL. 

With files from Meghan McCabe