People may think violence or abuse against women isn’t happening in their community, but that is not true.
“You think these things are happening in movies or really far away, but that’s is not the case,” said Shawn Gore.
Gore and Dean Valli were speaking to students at Langley Fundamental Secondary on Wednesday (Feb. 25) afternoon. The pair, who play football for the B.C. Lions, were at the school as part of the Lions’ Be More Than a Bystander Program.
“When you are talking, it is quiet, you can hear a pin drop,” Gore said.
“A lot of people are shocked, they are not expecting us to come in and speak about something so hard-hitting.”
The program, which was launched in 2011, aims to break the silence surrounding violence against women by providing tools, language and practical ideas about how to be more than a bystander, how to speak up and how to communicate that violence and abuse is not acceptable.
“It is a great opportunity to go into schools and speak and one of the main focuses is telling (people) it is their turn, their time to step up,” Gore said.
“There is something that can be done, but we just choose to be bystanders.”
The presentation also has the players share personal stories with the audience.
Gore and other members of the team have also created public service announcements to speak out against ending violence against women.
Gore knows he can protect his wife and two daughters.
“I tell the students, I am a big football player, I can protect them, but I can’t always be around them,” he said.
“We have to rely on each other and I have to rely on the other people in the community to step up if something is happening or going wrong.
“I need to believe that other people will step up and do something about it.”
Gore said that women face physical, mental and verbal abuse daily.
Even someone making a catcall to a women is a form of verbal abuse that affects women.
He has participated in the program for four years and said he gets great feedback from students after the presentations, with students pulling him aside and sharing their stories of issues with abuse, or having known people who have suffered.