Peterborough shelter story

A holiday letter from Gabby about her time at Crossroads

Leaving the house that morning was the scariest moment.

I took the kids and walked out the door. I had a suitcase that I’d spent a week packing, in secret, so that my husband wouldn’t catch on. We took nothing else with us.

My friend met us near the house and drove us to Crossroads Shelter. It had been one week since I decided it was time. I had to get out with my kids.

I had only spoken about what was going on in our home to one or two people. I was trying to protect myself, and trying to keep our family together. But people in my life started noticing, telling me I wasn’t my usual self, that I seemed isolated. I started having anxiety attacks.

Once it became clear that the verbal, emotional, and physical abuse weren’t going to stop, my therapist told me I needed to get some help. She recommended the YWCA. I phoned them and had a couple of sessions with a counsellor to give me some support.

I’m so glad I did. I didn’t want my children being raised that way.

The day before I left home, one of the workers from Crossroads Shelter got in touch to give me more information about what to expect. The YWCA had already arranged for a police officer to meet with my husband. I had never felt safe enough to call the police before.

But once I got to Crossroads, that all changed. The staff were so supportive right away. They brought us to our unit, which had connected bedrooms for the kids and me, brought us meals to eat, and even watched my kids for me so that I could talk to the police officer about what was going on.

From the day I walked in to the YWCA, the staff never once made me question why I was there. I didn’t have to explain myself, and that was so important at the time. They stood firmly behind me to support the healthy boundary I had set, and told me I was doing everything I was supposed to do. I can’t describe how much that helped my mental health and self-esteem.

I didn’t know at the time how things were going to unfold. But I know now that I would not have been able to make the decisions I needed to make – and have a second chance for my children and myself – without the YWCA, or without the support of the community.

Generous contributions to YWCA programs help families like mine to start over when they need it most. Will you help shine a light in the darkness and support the YWCA?

You’ll be changing lives like mine, and my children’s, more than you know.

The first night at Crossroads, the kids and I were restless. It was hard being away from home. I was trying to make it seem like a fun adventure for my little ones, but they were confused about why we were away. One of the saddest moments for me was hearing my son say he wanted to go home.

But I knew I had done the right thing for all of us, and gradually we settled into a routine.

I started looking for a new job and a new place to live, while also dealing with the court and legal systems. The Crossroads team walked with me every step of that journey – helping me fill out housing applications, putting me in touch with a lawyer, and providing a case support worker who helped me to prepare myself for the court process. They helped me contact the Children’s Aid Society and anyone else who could help me advocate for myself and my kids and the life we deserved.

When it came time for us to leave Crossroads, I had started a new job and found a two-bedroom apartment for the kids and me as a temporary landing place. Then I got a phone call from one of the housing managers at the YWCA.

They had a three-bedroom unit for us at Centennial Crescent, the YWCA’s rent-geared-to-income housing community, after we applied to the Special Priority Program.

Once again, the YWCA really came through at the moment we needed it.

Centennial Crescent became our new home for the next year. The staff there were just as supportive. It was especially helpful for me to get to know the other moms in the community there and to hear their stories about their experiences. We had all been through so much with the legal system and the courts – each of us had some wins and some losses.

I’m happy to say that things do turn around, and we have come out the other side. I found strength in myself that I never knew I had. I feel so lucky to have had the support of these people and these resources through the YWCA.

I also feel very grateful to community members who have supported the YWCA. You helped make it possible for us to have a new life, a fresh start. None of this could have happened without your support.

Please consider making a generous gift today, so the YWCA can give another family like mine a second chance at the life they deserve.

With sincere thanks,


P.S. Please help the YWCA shine a light in the darkness for those who need it most. Make your holiday gift today and your donation will be matched up to $48,500 by our generous sponsors!

*Gabby is a real woman who recently found support at YWCA Peterborough Haliburton. Her name has been changed to protect her safety.