YWCA Women's Centre sign, showing counselling & support for women: 705-286-6442

Women’s shelter at capacity in ‘record year’

By Mike Baker, The Highlander |

The YWCA Peterborough Haliburton is further away than it has ever been from achieving its goal of putting itself out of business.

Demand for services at the local women’s shelter reached new, record-breaking highs in 2021 as dozens of women from across the Highlands sought support to escape abusive, often dangerous situations. Darlene Smith-Harrison, the organization’s director of client services, said the increase falls in line with a concerning trend since the onset of the pandemic showing a drastic rise in domestic violence.

During the last calendar year, the YWCA provided counseling and transition support services to 167 women across the region. They housed a further eight women and eight children in its two temporary living accommodations offered through the Haliburton Emergency Rural SafeSpace (HERS) initiative, which ran at 99.7 per cent occupancy in 2021.

“That is, by far, the highest number we’ve ever seen,” Smith-Harrison said. “From the women we’re serving, we’re hearing the violence they’re experiencing is worse, and that they’re feeling more isolated. In speaking with other professionals in our community, they’re describing situations they’ve seen and dealt with before progressing from a push or a shove, to, now, broken bones.” (Read more…)