UPDATE: January 8th, 2015
Joel Willett sent us this update to share with you:
"As most of you know, recently I posted on Twitter about personal funding I was providing to the YWCA for RTs that I got. I'm proud to say that it was able to get 323 RTs. Such an amazing amount of support from our community. Though it hasn't gotten to the 1000 RT mark I was hoping for, through the amount of support through PTBOCanada.com and everyone else, my letter (see below) was able to get over 10,000 views and 1,226 likes. I never thought my words would have had such a great impact on people. More importantly than all of that though is that I was able to give a voice to my mom who allowed the weight of being a victim of domestic violence rest on her mind and tear her apart for over 20 years. I'm so proud of her for everything she has done in respect to speaking up and no longer letting the tragic experiences of her past to rule her life anymore. She gave everything she had to give to my brothers and myself so that we could have a better life.
I've decided that because of the outpouring of support from social media, that during the 2015 YWCA Walk-A-Mile event I am going to donate the full $1,000 on behalf of everyone who has been affected (or still is) by domestic violence. I encourage everyone to donate to someone they know that are going to walk with me this spring in support of the YWCA crossroads shelter. Every dollar raised goes to many programs to help women escape violent relationships.
Thank you so much to everyone for the support they have shown for my cause. Peterborough is such an amazing community and together we can make it even better. Let's end domestic violence together."
We asked Joel Willett for the back story on his tweet to pay tribute to Lise Fredette and to raise money for Walk A Mile Peterborough that we wrote about in this prior post. He responded to us with this letter below that we'll never forget. We don't think you'll forget it either. Please read and share...
There were many factors that led to my walk-a-mile tweet. My mother was a victim of domestic violence, and suffered in a marriage for 8 years. There were multiple times that she had tried to leave with my brother and I, but each time would go back because of threats of violence, including holding a knife to her throat. Once my mother finally left, and moved home to Peterborough, where she was no longer isolated from her family, she was able to get help through many different resources that were available at the time. The domestic violence didn't end there though, as 7 years after she finally left, her abuser worked his way into her life again. The abuse occurred again in the form of a sexual assault. This is when The YWCA crossroads shelter helped my mother through the whole process.
The birth of my daughter is another big factor. Being an advocate against domestic violence because of what my mother was put through, I want to provide my daughter with knowledge and understanding of how a loving relationship should be. Now as she is growing up in the innocent age bracket that she is, she is starting to ask questions about relationships and love, I want to show her, how a man should treat his partner, through my own personal relationship. When Kyleigh (my daughter) asked me why I walk in high heels, I explained to her it’s to support women who live in relationships where their husbands are not very nice to them. She knew, through how her mother and myself have raised her, that hitting is not good and that nobody should be hurt because someone they love. Through my few years that I have walked, she has supported me all of the way, and as she grows older I know that its all the little things that I do now will help shape the way her life turns out.
Through my education at Fleming College and in the Police Foundations program, we were addressing the issue of domestic violence. At the same time, this is when Lise Fredette, went missing. Upon discovering that her ex-boyfriend was the main suspect and that he was arrested for her murder, it made me think of what my mother went through over 20 years ago. I thought how could this still be going on in today’s world where there is so much support for women who have suffered through abuse. That’s when I realized how much of a stigma this still was. Domestic violence is not just something that occurs while in a relationship. Even after this dear woman, who was always a happy customer service representative at Wal-Mart, ended a relationship, the abuse didn't end for her. It only ended in the horrific circumstances that it had.
For these reasons I felt like I needed to do more, not just strap on some heels and raise a couple hundred dollars, but actually get the community involved and making as many people as possible being a part of awareness of domestic violence. I want to see society teach our sons that abusing someone you love and evoking fear into their lives for any reason is not acceptable; and to teach our daughters that they do not, and should not live their lives in a way that puts them at risk of being in a domestic violent relationship. To enable women all around to stand up and seek assistance if it is needed, and to stop the stigma that is still present in today’s world. Domestic violence is not a private matter, and I will do everything I can to help end domestic violence.