Transition house site secured for Parksville Qualicum Beach
The single mom gathers her little ones close, hoping to protect at least a shred of their innocence. He's coming back, of that there's no doubt, but in what kind of mood? Will he hit her again? Will the children have to witness this abuse again?
She wants to leave, but there's nowhere to go. Her kids go to a nearby school, and taking them out of that place, a safer place than home where they have friends and positive male influences, is not a good option. They have suffered enough.
She has her part-time job. She doesn't have the money or support, or even a vehicle, to flee this violence, to leave this domestic disaster.
So she suffers again. At least he doesn't hit the children when he strikes her. Maybe he will actually change his ways this time, and mean what he says when he says he's sorry and it won't happen again.
Sure, she could call the police again, and they will help her the best they can, perhaps with a ride to a transition house in Nanaimo, where her children won't be able to attend their school and she will have to miss more shifts at her job.
She can only hope, really, because there's nowhere to go.
Soon, in the Parksville Qualicum Beach area, there will be a safe place for this single mother and her children to rebuild their lives, to live without fear.
Haven Society and the Society of Organized Services (SOS) have secured a house in the area which will have room for three families like the fictitious one created above, and an additional transitional unit for longer-term stays.
"With a home here, women have an opportunity to stay in the community, be supported," said Anne Spilker, the executive director of the Haven Society. "When she has to leave her community, her kids can't go to school. Her support is here and she might not be able to work. Often women return prematurely and the cycle of abuse continues."
"With this home, the chances that they can rebuild their lives and be autonomous increase, thereby the cycle stops."
While they have secured the house in Parksville Qualicum Beach, Haven and the SOS still need to raise $200,000 for operations. They plan to have a staff member at the house 24-7 and funds are needed for food, transportation and other support staff and services.
Haven has "huge expertise" in this field and are the best option to operate the facility," said SOS executive director Renate Sutherland.
For obvious reasons, the location of the house will not be advertised.
"We need the women to feel safe, to know it's not a well-known location, that she's protected," said Sutherland.
Spilker said the Haven Society has had a facility like this in Nanaimo for more than 30 years, and the incidents of men showing up in an effort to confront a former partner have been few and far between, but they have happened.
"The RCMP are really good," said Spilker. "They know what's going on and they get there lickety-split."
The SOS has existing programs for men who recognize they must change their ways.
"We also try to support men too, to make the changes they need to make to live a healthier life," said Sutherland.
In a news release issued this week, the SOS said according to the Oceanside RCMP and Statistics Canada, 35 per cent of all calls to the RCMP are domestic-violence related.
"The SOS has provided a safe home program for women experiencing domestic violence in the Oceanside area for over 30 years, but it is for short-term stays with no on-site support," said Sutherland. "We've been told we don't need (a transition house) since shelters are available in adjoining communities. We know that isn't true because women are choosing to remain in abusive relationships rather than leave their community and their jobs."
The target date for opening the Parksville Qualicum Beach-area transition house is the end of summer.
"Donations (tax receipts can be issued) of cash, fencing, furniture and other items are needed to see this project come to fruition," said Sutherland.
To make a donation, contact the Haven Society at 250-756-2414 or SOS at 250-248-2093.