Sarah* arrived here from Mexico in 2003 looking forward to a bright future. She soon met a wonderful man she believed was her soul mate. They married very quickly and it was not long before he became abusive and began to control her life.
He made good money, wore expensive clothes but forced her to ask him for any of her necessities. When she became pregnant he made offensive comments about her weight so immediately after her daughter was born she started a crash diet. Stress and anxiety increased and it wasn’t long before she gained it back, and more, so his demeaning nature got worse. The verbal abuse escalated, he was having an affair, and became physically abusive. “I still have a hard time admitting he was hitting me,” Sarah tells us.
He was away most nights. He would come home to get his clothes and other items for work; she would hear his keys in the door and become afraid. She didn’t know where to go and was unsure about her rights in Canada. Her husband always told her if she called the police she would wind up in the streets or be deported to Mexico and lose her daughter. However, the relationship was getting so much worse that she had lost all hope.
A neighbour told her to go to a shelter. Fearfully she did and it was the first good night’s sleep Sarah had had in a long time. She was happy there; it was peaceful and the counsellors were caring and helpful. During her first sessions all she could do was cry but it was such a relief to finally let it out.
Sarah was quickly connected to Discovery House and was helped to find an apartment for herself and her daughter. As part of our Community Housing program, case managers gave her the support she needed. “It helped me a lot to have them over to visit because my family is in Mexico and my parents couldn’t come see me because my mom was sick. This program really helped save my life.”
While upgrading her English, Sarah noticed the other students on campus working hard in their programs which inspired her to explore her own possibilities. Now Sarah is enrolled in full time education, with the help of a scholarship from Discovery House.. She has applied for programs in nursing and social work and can finally look forward to the bright future she had always hoped for.
Sarah would encourage any woman to go to a shelter rather than live with abuse. When some women hear the word shelter they think of it as a scary place, but there she found peace and love. “As women we are so capable to do many things, to be strong and fight for our kids,” she says.
She is tremendously grateful to everyone who helped get her to where she is now, and works hard in her studies to prove it. She also wants to set an example for her daughter. “I want her to go to university. Even though she is four, I say you are going to be a teacher or a doctor… and I let her know she can do it.”
*name changed to protect the identity of the client