Breaking the silence so healing could begin, women shared their struggle stories at a networking event held at the Fish Hoek Civic Centre.Attending the event, organised by ward 64, were assistant to councillor Aimee Kuhl, Yvette Stephen; philanthropist and founder of HGG NPO Sustainability Solutions, Tina Thiart; women’s rights activist and director of 1000 Women Trust, Caroline Peters; and director of Philippi Trust SA, Chantal Philander. Fifty Fish Hoek residents joined them in support of the #HearMeToo campaign and to network with other strong women in the community.Peters recounted the day that led to her becoming a women’s rights activist. “My mission to break the cycle of violence began when I was 16 years old. I was gang-raped at Nantes Park in Bridgetown, and my friend murdered. My journey to becoming an activist, fighting injustice for women, started that day.”After the harrowing incident, she began to go down a path that led nowhere, she explained. Only much later did she realise her worth and the power she has as a woman. Addressing Ocean View High School learners in attendance, Peters encouraged the young women to build their identity on who they were and what they could achieve rather than on their sexuality. Learner Ongeziwe Jijwa (19) told People’s Post that she and her fellow learners were eager to attend the networking session. “We volunteered because we were excited to attend the women’s conference. We’re going to listen to what the speakers have to say and learn from them. “Sometimes women aren’t given the chance to stand out as men do, so it’s important for women to connect,” she said.Michelle Runkel, provincial executive of the Democratic Alliance (DA) Women Networking initiative, also emphasised how important it was for women from different generations to share their distinct experiences and to learn from each other. “From my generation to the next, we had different issues to deal with. Today’s young women have to cope with social media (cyberbullying) on all the different platforms. We, as the older generation, dealt with issues that they haven’t experienced yet. So we need women – teenagers and adults – to collaborate.”Philander led the #HearMeToo story sharing session. She felt that part of the day had been the most fun; women were able to open up about their experiences and to possibly prevent other women from going through the same thing.At the end of the event, women were again encouraged to talk to each other, to share experiences and knowledge to break the cycle of violence.For more information on 1000 Women Trust, visit www.1000women.co.za.