When I moved into 2nd Stage Housing at YWC Durham in October of 2017 I was in a very low and dark place.
I had spent the last nine months couch surfing and going from shelter to shelter and bad situation to bad situation. The love of my life and father of my daughter had passed away in and my recently sober life shattered into more pieces than I could have ever thought possible.
My addiction took front and center in my life again and I spiraled downhill faster than ever before. I had very little family support, I had lost most of my healthy friends, my daughter was in my sister’s custody due to my addiction and the one person who had been by my side through it all was gone forever.
I have never felt more alone than I did at that time.
I went to rehab for the second time two days after I moved into the 2nd Stage Housing program and upon my return, immediately went back to a job that I hated. I quickly relapsed and went right back to my old ways of lying and trying to hide my drug use for the next eight months.
The staff at YWCA Durham saw right through me and my lies, but they also saw something in me that I couldn’t see at the time, and I was given more than once chance to get my act together.
Those chances likely saved my life because I am a completely different person than the broken shell of a woman I was when I first arrived here. I am 429 days clean to date, I am off methadone and I transitioned out of the 2nd Stage Housing Program into housing that I obtained on my own.
I can see a future again and it’s burning bright.
I’m working hard to regain custody of my daughter, I go to school, I attend counselling through Pinewood, Family Services Durham and the APPLE program at YWCA Durham.
Most importantly, I love and take care of myself again. If you would have told me when I moved in who I’d be when I left, I would have laughed in your face.
But, here I stand.
In addition to giving me chances to stay in the 2nd Stage Housing Program, the amazing staff at YWCA Durham pushed me to be honest with myself and called me out on my nonsense, not letting me get away with it. I was held accountable for my actions and choices and given access to supports and resources that I didn’t know existed.
Once I actually decided that I wanted to live again, and not just exist, I started to put intense work into my healing. It was and is hard, but I am doing it and have come into my own as a highly functioning person again. Many people have commented about the ‘sparkle’ in my eye.
None of these things would have happened without the amazing staff at YWCA Durham and I will be forever grateful to them for helping me find my way, and myself, again.
My husband and I had some good years. Before we had our son, I worked, I played, I had time to myself. I was free to live the way I wanted to.
I loved him, but things change. We had a son, and slowly, the abuse began.
His abuse left no bruises or broken bones. No one else could see or understand what I was going through.
By the time our son was nine, I knew I needed to leave. There were so many things to think about - how the abuse was affecting my son, how hard it would be to leave home, my son would have to change schools, we needed a temporary home for our cat. How would my son feel about not seeing his Dad as much? How could I support us? Wouldn't it just be easier to stay? But the downside of staying in this abusive relationship finally outweighed the obstacles of leaving.
The first shelter I approached was full. Thankfully, I was referred to Y's WISH in Oshawa and am so glad I did.
I loved the support we received from the staff. From the first moment, we felt accepted and welcome, free from blame or judgement. I was encouraged to set a goal and go for it. They helped me see the light at the end of the tunnel and reach for it.
After the last three months here, I'm a different person. I've matured. It turns out I'm stronger than I thought. I have overcome the tragedies. I'm a survivor.
Now I'm enrolled in the college, and within six months, I'll have my qualifications as a Personal Support Worker. I'm an honours student and know I can do this. My son and I just moved into our own apartment. The best part is we have our cat back! My son has his own room and we are safe. I am free of the abuse and I have hope for the future.
I want other women in abusive situations to know that they have options. The stigma of abuse and the ways it impacts how you see yourself aren't the truth. The truth is - life can be different. Y's WISH is supportive and safe. All the support you need is available to you. When you leave, the door stays open behind you.