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Zero tolerance for bullying and abuse

Kamal Dhillon speaks to a crowd about her experience of domestic abuse on Saturday.  - Alex Butler
Kamal Dhillon speaks to a crowd about her experience of domestic abuse on Saturday.
— image credit: Alex Butler

The effects of domestic abuse and bullying were the focus of a workshop at the New Life Church on Saturday, drawing about 90 participants.

“Zero Tolerance: Standing up against bullying and abuse,” was sponsored by Paradigm Ministeries, an organization led by David Collins.

The event hosted members of the Abbotsford Police Department, speaking about domestic violence and cyber-bullying, and a registered clinical counsellor addressing  trauma and the brain.

Kamal Dhillon, author of Black and Blue Sari – an account of her experiences of domestic abuse – also spoke to the group.

Collins said he saw Dhillon speak at an event and knew her story needed to be told. He wanted to give her a forum to speak and also provide people with information on how to stop abuse from happening.

This led him to bring together various speakers to address different aspects of abuse and bullying.

“I care for my city, I feel people need to become more aware.”

Dhillon told the crowd that she wished to share her own experience of horrific abuse, and to remind them that abuse can happen to anyone, regardless of religion, race and gender.

Weeks after getting married at 18, Dhillon’s husband hit her. His increasingly abusive tendencies were accepted by her in-laws, leaving her with nowhere to turn.

She was abused throughout her four pregnancies, giving birth to her third child prematurely after being pushed down the stairs.

Dhillon said she didn’t flee from her husband because he did not allow her to gain skills to be self-sufficient and she feared for her children.

“He bought my silence using my love for my children.”

Dhillon’s daughter Amy spoke about her own experience of watching her mother’s abuse at the hands of her father.

She said the years of witnessing violence left her fearful of strangers and unable to trust anyone.

The years of exposure to abuse led to insecurity. Amy Dhillon was increasingly bullied at school, but felt unable to burden her mother with her story.

“The more it happened, the more silent I became.”

Even after their family escaped her abusive father, Amy was unable to tell her mother about the abuse she was experiencing.  She grew increasingly distressed, self-inflicting harm and attempting suicide. Amy said it took her a long time to realize that by not speaking up, she empowered the bullies.

Now, she said she feels thankful to be able to enable others to fight against domestic violence and bullying.

Collins organized the event single-handedly and hoped to support more events in Abbotsford that address violence and bullying.

“Something can be done if one person has a vision.”

Paradigm Ministries will be hosting a series of events called “Digging Deeper” on Feb 20 and 27, and March 6 and 13 at the Sweet Dreams Luxury Inn on King Road. For more information visit http://diggingdeepersweetdreamsinn.eventbrite.com/

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