Shelter Awareness  

Home not always 'safe'

As Christmas approaches, the usual bustle at the Kelowna Women’s Shelter is multiplied by a flurry of holiday preparations. Like most households at this time of year, whatever else may be happening, a major focus is on planning and preparation: for holiday meals, parties, a tree, decorations, stockings and stuffers, perfect gifts to match the dreams of children, and the arrival of “guests”.

Family violence and intimate partner abuse impact families in our community every day of the year, and the holiday season is no exception. While valiant efforts may be made to “keep it together” over the holidays “so the children can have a happy Christmas” or “because the relatives are coming to visit”, in some families, things fall apart or blow up anyway.

It is unlikely that any woman’s dreams for the holidays include gathering up her children and spending Christmas in a Shelter or Transition house. However when it becomes clear that “home for the holidays” is not a safe place to be, leaving may be the only option. When a woman must make the difficult choice to leave, there is almost always sadness and apprehension, and this is especially true during the holiday season as the prospect of a “merry” Christmas seems to vanish. Upon arriving at the Shelter however, there is generally, profound relief and gratitude as well. Whatever the season, the Shelter is there to provide a safe, clean, supportive place to be, however at this time of year, the Shelter provides much more. Thanks to the generosity of our community and the efforts of staff, the house is decorated, food is plentiful, there are gifts for all, and, perhaps most importantly, there is relative peace… as much peace as one can find in a house full of excited children.

The Kelowna Women’s Shelter would like to thank our generous community for all the many ways that you provide support to the Shelter, its services and the women and children in our community who are impacted by family violence and abuse. It is this generosity and support that make it possible to ensure a safe place, food, transportation and childcare, as well as counselling and support services – and Christmas with all the trimmings!

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About the Author

April, 2011 marks the 31st anniversary of the day the Kelowna Women’s Shelter opened its’ doors to offer counselling, support and a safe residence for women and children whose lives have been impacted by family violence, abuse and significant crisis. The Kelowna Women’s Shelter is a place of refuge for women who are not safe in their own homes, women who have been beaten, traumatized, threatened, and have fled in terror from a partner. Our staff and volunteers provide services to women and children in the area boundaried by Oyama to the North and Peachland to the South. For more information visit kelownawomensshelter.ca or call 250-763-1040

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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