According to the Canadian Women’s Foundation, one of the most commonly asked questions about women in domestic violence situation is, “Why doesn’t she just leave the relationship?” There are many answers to that question but this one forms the basis of the story below: ‘Women are financially dependent on their partner. Women who leave a partner to raise their children on their own are more than five times likely to be poor than if they had stayed together.
Walking away from a life of family violence into a life of poverty was not what “Johanna” signed up for. She also didn’t realize how much every other area in her life would be affected by financial instability.
A few months after being housed, Johanna found herself having to navigate her way around a new situation; poverty. Money was tight and to make ends meet, she found herself selling items at the pawn shop. It was clear that she was struggling emotionally, mentally and physically to keep up with day to day tasks. Johanna felt as if she no longer had control of her life. She felt ashamed of her situation and as a result, she slowly started to disengage from her case manager, Erin. However, Johanna continued to make bad choices and it took losing her home for the second time and her support, to be the catalyst for change.
Erin checked in with Johanna on a regular basis and when Johanna felt ready, she met with Erin and told her that she wanted to gain control of life. She wanted to feel more confident and to be a better role model to her young children so together; they came up with a short list of achievable goals to work toward in the next few months.
Johanna’s first order of business was to become healthier so she signed up for a gym membership. It was at this point, where Johanna’s life started to change. She finally realized that we at Discovery House were there to help and support her in any way we can. Accountability was important to Johanna so Erin had to be innovative in her approach. In this case, Erin agreed to exercise with Johanna and support her at the same time. She also agreed to go grocery shopping with Johanna and help with meal preparation.
Today, Johanna is a changed woman. She knows she still has a long way to go and is committed to meeting weekly with her case manager and mental health specialist and her children meet with a child and youth specialist while at school. She was rehoused in a beautiful affordable home that meets all the needs of her family. The children needed their own space and they now each have their own bedroom. The home is only a short distance from school and Johanna has the time to work on herself. She is extremely motivated to change who she was and is ready to start budgeting, look into employment and regain control of her life. One of the most significant positive changes she experienced is that she no longer uses the pawn shop as a means of getting money.
Erin tells me that Johanna is so pleased she entered into the Community Housing Program. Without our help, support, encouragement and that extra push that comes in the form of personal accountability, she knows she would not be where she is today. And without the support of our donors, we would not have been able to make a difference in the lives of Johanna and her children.