Londoners came together Tuesday night to light the Tree of Hope in Victoria Park.
The tree was bathed in purple light to mark the start of the 7th annual Shine the Light on Woman Abuse campaign run by the London Abused Women’s Centre.
All month long, buildings, homes and other structures will be lit in purple to support the campaign and foster discussion about how we can end violence against women.
This year’s campaign honours Paula Gallant, who was murdered by her husband in 2005, and Mary Meadows, a survivor from St. Thomas who was able to leave her abuser and live a life free of violence thanks to help from the London Abused Women’s Centre.
“It’s liberating because for years I pretended my marriage was perfect, I pretended everything was fine, and now I can say, and not worry about what anybody else thinks, my marriage was a sham,” said Meadows.
“I was in an abusive marriage, and I was humiliated by that, I was humiliated by that because this was the person that I had chosen as my life partner and he was abusing me. So, now I can speak to that and hopefully I can help others.”
Meadows says she wants women to know they can get help and support from agencies like the London Abused Women’s Centre and there is hope.
The campaign has already grown to around 20 communities across Ontario, and this year it’s going national. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau shared his support last month in a video message played during a preview event, and the Peace Tower in Ottawa will be lit purple on November 15th.
November 15th also happens to be Wear Purple Day, when residents will be encouraged to wear purple clothing or accessories to honour women who are survivors and those who lost their lives to violence.
For more information on Shine the Light or the LAWC, visit their website.