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One extreme to the other

On Friday afternoon an email arrived in the editorial inbox at the Pilot. The contents of the email were pertaining to the call for applications for the Miss Achievement Newfoundland and Labrador Scholarship Program.

Award winners from this program can receive thousands of dollars worth of educational scholarships. This event is about challenging and rewarding young women between the ages of 13-18 who excel in academics, physical fitness, performing arts-related talents, community service and volunteer work.

The contestants and award recipients are all shining examples of the great things young women throughout this province are achieving in school, through volunteer efforts and other interests. They are role models for their peers and the girls who will follow in their footsteps.

As the application information for the Scholarship Program was being prepared to be included in the Pilot, another email arrived.

This particular email was a letter to the editor from Opposition MHA responsible for the Status of Women Cathy Bennett. The letter had to do with recognizing the efforts of those responsible for organizing events for the recent Sexual Violence Awareness Week.

Bennett went on to speak of the fear that some women have in just trying to walk at night. She spoke of the fact that many times sexual crimes are not reported, and that, “Survivors fear being doubted and blamed.”

Survivors have to go on and try to live their lives as best they can. Survivors have a lot to deal with.

Many female survivors of sexual crimes have gone on to become strong women and serve as an inspiration for others, but such is likely not the case for all survivors.

For someone who has had their potential cut short by any type of violence or abuse against them, it’s an uphill battle to deal with what has happened to them.

How do you think a 13-18 year old victim of a sexual crime might feel about applying to the Miss Achievement Newfoundland and Labrador Scholarship Program? Do you think they would have the same enthusiasm as someone who hasn’t had to endure such traumatic circumstances?

This is not meant to reflect negatively on the scholarship program or the wonderful things they are doing for young women in this province. It’s not to say that someone impacted by violence can’t or wouldn’t apply to the program.

What this editorial is meant to convey is that someone’s life can be turned upside by violence, especially by sexual crimes that can erode at the very heart of a young woman. It is meant to show that the difference between a young woman shooting for the stars and curling up in a ball in her room can rest in the actions of someone who inflicts violence against her. It is meant to show how someone destined to share their gifts with the world can bottle up all of that potential to avoid putting themselves out there and risking being hurt.

It is meant to show each of us that sexual violence hurts lives and it’s something we all play a part in ending.

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