Q&A: Meilyn Ordaz Revete
By Bella Butler MANAGING EDITOR
BIG SKY – The power of storytelling will bring healing, transparency and light to Big Sky at Bozeman-based nonprofit Haven’s End the Silence event on June 2. This will be the first event hosted in Big Sky by Haven, an organization that offers support, legal services, counseling and shelter for those impacted by domestic violence, sexual assault, sex trafficking and stalking.
End the Silence offers survivors the opportunity to explore and workshop their personal story in a cohort for eight to 10 weeks. This experience culminates in an event, where survivors have an opportunity to share their story.
EBS sat down with Haven’s prevention coordinator, Meilyn Ordaz Revete, ahead of the Big Sky event to discuss stigma around domestic violence, the power of story and Haven’s engagement in the Big Sky community.
End the Silence will take place at the Warren Miller Performing Arts Center in Big Sky on June 2 at 6 p.m. The event is free and open to the public.
The following Q&A has been edited for clarity and brevity.
Explore Big Sky: Tell me about the stigma and culture of silence related to domestic violence. What are the implications?
Meilyn Ordaz Revete: There can definitely be a lot of stigma surrounding domestic violence in general … A lot of the times we see people not wanting to disclose. Just a lot of stigma, just in terms of ‘will people believe me? Is this something that if I reach out to support will someone be there for me?’ Bottom line, it could be anyone and it could happen anywhere. And any person can cause harm as well.”
EBS: Haven serves the greater Gallatin County area, including Big Sky. What are stigmas or challenges related to domestic violence that might be unique to the Big Sky community?
M.O.R.: Stigma for domestic violence just in general is really big. There can be institutional barriers, there can be personal barriers, there can be so many different barriers for each different person. And so it really comes down to each individual … For example, we could be going through the same exact situation, but we’re kind of focusing on different ideas or different things are affecting us differently … Whether it’s in Big Sky or just in Bozeman or Belgrade or Livingston, Montana, the whole world, there is generally some stigma associated with domestic violence.
EBS: Haven’s End the Silence series aims to use story as a mechanism to deconstruct that stigma and culture of silence. Tell me about how this works.
M.O.R.: Really, we just believe in the power of story sharing, to bring and shed some light on to these situations. Just kind of highlighting that there is light, or there can be light, but we just have to share it … The more examples we’re able to provide, the more information we’re able to put out, the more equipped communities become, the more aware we become as well. Sometimes it’s about providing examples. So a lot of what we talk about [at Haven] can be very broad. And sometimes there is that missing connection piece of you will have a face and a story … Yes, it is happening all over the place. But it’s also a lot closer to home than you think … It’s definitely a two-fold situation. I have heard that it is very liberating to share stories. And so from a speaker or writer perspective as well it can be very healing in and of itself, to get to share stories.
EBS: The June 2 End the Silence event will be Haven’s first event in Big Sky. What do you hope to achieve?
M.O.R.: It’s kind of bringing it back to ensuring that folks in Big Sky know that we are here, we are available, that we’re here for them. Really just trying to create those connections with the Big Sky community so that folks know that we’re here know that there’s support, know that they don’t have to go through things on their own. We’re right next door, but sometimes it can be whole worlds apart. So just ensuring that folks know that they’re not alone. And that we’re here, we’ve got services, there’s support.
EBS: What long-term goals does Haven have for engaging in the Big Sky community?
M.O.R.: In terms of long-term goals, I know we have an additional workshop that we will be advertising at the June 2 event, it’s a healing workshop … We’re also planning on having a service provider workshop … And really just trying to create connections is the biggest piece. We’re just trying to, again, just create connections with folks in Big Sky. So whether that’s through service providers, whether it’s community members, but really just trying to make sure that folks know that we’re here is the biggest long-term goal. We just want Big Sky to know that we’re here for them.