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Abuse advocate’s journey to forgiveness

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Kamal Dhillon’s jaw was broken so badly and so often at the hands of her husband that she eventually required a surgically implanted artificial jaw. The author of Black and Blue Sari, an autobiography of abuse, torture, and attempted murder, was keynote speaker at a Feb. 23 workshop on domestic violence and abuse, hosted by Fort Garry MB, Winnipeg.

One might assume Dhillon’s story would be deeply discouraging (indeed Black and Blue Sari is a disturbing read); yet, thanks to Christ, her story is also one of tremendous hope and forgiveness, and a powerful witness to God’s supernatural power and relentless love. Dhillon spoke on forgiveness at both Fort Garry services the next morning.

In addition to Dhillon’s keynote, representatives from local agencies (Recovery of Hope, Inner City Youth Alive, Voices for Non-Violence [Mennonite Central Committee], Butterfly Project) presented about community resources available to families dealing with domestic violence.

The 160 attendees learned that domestic violence and abuse are not limited to any single ethnic group or socioeconomic status. They also gained insight into the many factors that make it difficult for victims to leave an abusive relationship.

An evaluation form circulated at the end encouraged participants to reflect on how they might personally be part of an answer to the endemic problem of domestic abuse and violence. At both the workshop and subsequent services, individuals connected with resources for help with domestic situations.

“Domestic violence and abuse is a dirty little secret we’d all rather pretend didn’t exist in our churches and families,” said Fort Garry pastor John Unger at the conclusion of the event. “Our thanks to Ms. Dhillon for helping us take the first step, to see and speak what is true.”

Mark Kristjanson, on behalf of Fort Garry organizing team

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