That first phone call was so hard to make.
Saying the words out loud: I’m in an abusive marriage. I need help. I don’t know what to do.
I’d known about the YWCA for a long time. But I had felt embarrassed to reach out before now. I’d just had a baby, and I didn’t want to leave the area or lose my job.
When my situation got too abusive and too toxic, I knew I had to do something.
I phoned the YWCA’s Women’s Centre in Haliburton. Right away they were supportive and non-judgmental. The outreach worker I spoke to asked if I was in trouble right now. I told her yes, that it wasn’t safe for me at home. She said they had a space for me and my kids at the Haliburton Emergency Rural SafeSpace (HERS).
So I loaded up my car as quickly as I could, and left.
Leaving home with young children and barely any belongings was so hard. I didn’t even have things like laundry detergent with me. I had almost no money, being on a limited income on maternity leave. But the YWCA team at the Women’s Centre were incredible. They supported us mentally and emotionally.
The HERS SafeSpace was a great set-up. We had our own kitchen, a washer-dryer right in our unit, and two bedrooms. I felt so comfortable there – they gave us anything and everything we needed to feel safe.
It felt like a weight had been lifted from me. The staff would help with my kids while I filled out forms to apply for subsidized housing, and they set me up to speak with a lawyer about court processes.
The hardest part was talking about what had happened back home. At the time, I hadn’t recognized that I was dealing with multiple levels of abuse. My therapist from the Women’s Centre was wonderful – she told me it wasn’t my fault, and listened as I worked through everything that took place, all my worries and fears.
It takes a long time to walk away from something like that. But my children won’t benefit from seeing their parent go through abuse. Now that I’m in a better place, they see what it looks like to be loved.
I’m genuinely grateful to people who have supported the YWCA’s programs in Haliburton County. It makes me so emotional to think about it, but if it weren’t for your donations to help the YWCA offer resources and a safe place to go for rural women and children, I wouldn’t be where I am today.
Your 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 keep supporting the YWCA?
You’ll be changing lives like mine, and my children’s, more than you know.
While I was staying at the YWCA HERS SafeSpace, I was constantly applying for every type of housing I could possibly find across the region.
I didn’t want to move far away, but when a subsidized housing option came up in a city farther from home, I took it as the best option I had.
But even when I was living there, moving on and doing my best to create a new life for my kids, I still kept in touch with my counsellor at the YWCA’s Women’s Centre. I had built such a meaningful relationship with her, and she continued to support me with phone sessions for a year after I left HERS.
I can’t express how much it meant to me to have someone like her to talk to, especially when things would get complicated between myself and my ex-husband. I needed to know that I was still making the right decisions – that I wasn’t just being emotional. She validated every one of my feelings and reassured me that I’m on the right path.
After a few months, the school season was coming up for my kids and I wanted a bit more stability and consistency for our family. I started looking for housing back home again.
I got lucky. I found an apartment I could afford, close to where I work now. My children are back at the school they know, with the friends they’ve been with since kindergarten.
Making ends meet is tough, and I know I’m not the only one who struggles with the cost of living right now. And it was hard at times to come home after everything that happened. Even when things were going fine, I still had that genuine fear and panic that something could happen.
But I know now that I have options – that if something happened, I can leave and find resources to help me. I know that I have a much bigger support network than I thought.
Things are going so well for my kids and me these days, and I couldn’t be more thankful to the staff and outreach workers at the YWCA’s Women’s Centre.
I also feel very grateful to community members like you. 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 another 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!
*Bailey is a real woman who recently found support at YWCA Peterborough Haliburton. Her name has been changed to protect her safety.