Oct 12, 2013 / 5:00 am
For a woman who is impacted by family violence and abuse, recognizing that they are experiencing abuse and taking the step of reaching out for help can be a frightening and challenging process. For an immigrant woman, the process is even more daunting. The following story is one woman’s account of her journey from abuse to accessing help and creating a new and better life for herself and her children.
I came to Canada a number of years ago as an immigrant woman with four young children. I was fleeing an abusive relationship in my country and leaving all my family and friends and everything I had known behind. It was the only way I felt that I could be safe and escape the abuse.
When I came to Canada I began to realize the cultural differences between my own country and Canada and how women were treated differently here. In my country women have very few rights compared to men. A woman’s job is to sacrifice, compromise and let go of her own identity - to have no needs or wants of her own. Her only desire is to be keeping the family together, but at what cost? It felt strange to realize that in this country, what I contributed to my family, my community, and in my work was valued and it did really matter.
I had always thought that the abuse I had suffered throughout my life was normal but I began to realize that it was not. As I struggled desperately to work through the effects the abuse had had on my life, someone told me about the Kelowna Women’s Shelter and their services. They said that I could receive counselling at any time, 24 hours a day, over the phone, have one to one counselling appointments, and attend the support group, all at no cost.
At first I was very afraid to go to talk to someone about my past, especially about the abuse I had suffered. I felt ashamed to speak of these things and afraid of the pain it brought up for me. Even so, I made myself go to the first appointment. The counsellor listened to my story and told me I was not alone. She gave me information on abuse and encouraged me to attend the support group. I knew I had to do this, as I had felt immobilized with pain for too long and could not move on with my life.
I had felt alone in the abuse I had experienced but once I attended the support group and came for counselling, I realized that I was truly not alone anymore. I kept coming to the Shelter so I would have the strength to heal myself from all that I had been through. I began to believe that I was worth it and that I deserved a better life.
I had no idea that there were so many wonderful resources available in the community for women like me, for all women regardless of their race, religion, beliefs, and culture. It only took one call to the Women’s Shelter to begin the journey to being who I am today! I feel like a whole person who has self- respect and dignity. I don’t cry all the time anymore. I am living a full, happy life, one that I thought I could never have. I have accessed Shelter services for myself, and my children have attended the children who witness abuse program and this as well, has helped them in their own healing journey.
If you have experienced, or are living with, violence and abuse within a relationship, call for help. Abuse is never okay…asking for help is! Call the Kelowna Women’s Shelter @ 250 763-1040.
Read more Shelter Awareness articles
- Rethinking the stereotypes Nov 23
- Immigrant women Oct 12
- Violence Against Women Week Apr 20
- Home not always 'safe' Dec 23
- Dynamic shelter support groups Oct 19
- Helping a friend Jun 17
- Warning signs Apr 8
- Fleeing abuse Feb 11
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