Tuesday, March 7, 2017
I had no idea that my sister was suffering. She had been divorced for a couple of years and had started to go on dates again. The year was 2004 and she had met, who we thought, was a really nice man. We had met him several times. He came across as kind and full of life. He liked her 2 boys. He had an excellent high level job in the provincial government of British Columbia. He came to our house and we are good judges of people (we think) and we were happy for them. She decided to quit her full time job, sell her house and move her, her boys and dog across the country to start a new life with this man in Vancouver. And all was great for the first few months. They did lots of exploring of British Columbia and they all settled in. Their world was all about them getting use to living together and creating their new life.
Then my sister got a really good full time job and things started to change. Her partner basically didn’t want her to have any friends or contacts other than him. He phoned her twice every hour at work. He got angry if she talked about any of her old friends from Ontario, or her new friends she was making. He didn’t want her to have any other life than what she had with him. I had no idea that she was afraid and that one evening in the early winter she took her boys to a women’s shelter in downtown Vancouver. She didn’t call me. It was at the exact same time that my 18 year old nephew was stabbed to death in the driveway of his home and my husband and I were so focused on trying to support the grief stricken parents and ourselves. My sister didn’t want to bother me, and also I think she was ashamed and very sad that it wasn’t working. She was afraid. My 2 nephews told me about the family situation and the shelter when they visited me the following summer. I was devastated as you can imagine.
Fast forward to 2017 and my sister has composed a beautiful life with another wonderful man and my 2 nephews are great. It all worked out. My sister managed to get away from the controlling man and re-build her life with her boys and then eventually meet another person. To this day I am so grateful for the incredible support she got from her then brand new co-workers in downtown Vancouver, and from the women’s shelter. For those of us who are in strong relationships it can be hard to understand these situations. Why would anyone treat someone like that? It is heart breaking. And that is why we need places like the YMCA HERS (Haliburton Emergency Relief Shelter) for women and children who need to flee abusive situations. I would never in a million years thought my sister and nephews would need a place to go to flee abuse. It can happen to anyone that we know. Tomorrow is International Women’s Day and there is a fundraiser for HERS at the Sir Sandford Fleming College of Art and Design. It is from 5:00 – 6:30. Although I can’t attend because I am working, I will send a donation. Every dollar counts. Thank you to the organizers of this event, to the people who will perform and donate food and to the organizers of YMCA HERS. It is an essential service. It saves lives.