Tina's story

Tina’s Story: “The YWCA helped me rebuild myself on the inside.”

Content note: the story below describes a situation of gender-based violence. If you feel you may be negatively affected by reading, please protect your mental health. You can also contact us on our 24-hour support & crisis line at 1-800-461-7656.

My name is Tina and 25 years ago, my doctor said something that would change our lives forever: “I can help you and your girls get to a safe place.”

At the time, I didn’t see myself as a victim of abuse. I was in my early 20’s with two young daughters, in a relationship that looked like most of the relationships I’d known. I’d grown up in a home where men were powerful and strong and women did what they were told. Period.

I’d been having trouble breathing and my doctor told me it was because I had several broken ribs.

It was the first time in my life that someone told me what was happening to me – what had been happening my entire life – was wrong.

Police became involved and my partner was arrested and charged. He was released and I was encouraged to “stay away from him”. My daughters and I moved into a basement apartment in Port Hope, but it wasn’t long before he found us. He would come and watch us or bang on the windows at all hours of the night.

I called the YWCA and Crossroads Shelter sent a cab. We climbed in with nothing but the clothes we were wearing and didn’t look back.

You can help a woman safely escape abuse and create a new life for herself and her children by giving generously in support of YWCA services today.

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I remember the women at Crossroads giving my girls all these little things when we arrived, toothbrushes and toys. It was so beautiful. They were helping us feel at home from the moment they met us.

Over the coming weeks these same women walked me through the steps of applying for financial assistance and housing. They taught me how to negotiate my first and last month’s rent, moving expenses and even helped me find furniture for our new home – things I would never have known how to do on my own.

When the time came for us to move, they helped us go back for our things at the old apartment. I knew immediately that I’d made the right choice in reaching out for help. He’d been there and had destroyed everything. Even the girls’ artwork I’d saved over the years had been left to soak in the bathtub. All I could think was, “It’s okay. We’re going to be okay. We still have everything we need.

The YWCA helped me rebuild myself on the inside. I was creating a whole new life for us. We had food and clothes and safe walls and I had the tools I needed to move forward. We were going to be alright.

In the summer of ‘97, I started self-development training to qualify for entry into college. That fall, I got two part time jobs, bought a car and started my program. In 2000, I graduated from Fleming College with a diploma in Computer Programming and Business Admin. I’ve been employed full time since then and I’ve been off financial assistance since 2000, which is something I never thought was going to be attainable for me.

Today I feel strong. I am present every second, every minute, every day.

My girls are now grown and employed full time, supporting themselves. They are amazing, capable women, like me.

I believe in my heart that if any one of us has the ability to help another woman reach a place like YWCA Crossroads Shelter, where she’ll be safe, where she can learn to rebuild herself, we need to try.

Twenty years have passed since my daughters and I stayed at Crossroads Shelter, yet the YWCA is still helping families like mine, every day. And the need continues to grow.

You can help a woman safely escape abuse and create a new life for herself and her children by giving generously in support of YWCA services today.

Please help her, like someone helped me.

With sincere thanks,

Tina Thornton

YWCA Past Board President & Survivor

P.S. Your support today is vitally important to women in crisis. Please remind a woman in your community that she is not alone. Make your donation today.