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Shelley 2024

Shelley shares her story about the impact of our services, as a past client and survivor of intimate partner abuse.

Her story is outlined in this short video and also in the letter below. 

If you are able, consider investing in WIC to create a brighter future for survivors of gender-based violence. Donate button

Dear supporter,

I felt a rise of panic. Was I really doing this?

I pulled open the outer door and pressed the intercom buzzer. The noise made me jump. I was so on edge.

Then, she smiled at me. The receptionist looked me straight in the eyes. I felt welcomed. I took a breath, and another. I smiled back.

At that exact moment, I knew. I just knew that I had come to the right place.

This is Shelley’s story. Hearing it warmed our hearts. Indeed, it is the essence of what Women in Crisis is about. WIC is that welcoming place women can turn to. Shelley was trying to leave an abusive relationship while keeping herself and her two daughters safe. She needed somewhere to turn. A place to land. A safe haven. A support network. WIC was all of this for her. And we couldn’t have been here for Shelley without YOU. Please consider supporting us again this year.

Shelley came to us on the advice of a co-worker who had also been a WIC client. We provided her with counselling within our Transitional and Housing Support Program and later helped her through our Family Court Support Program (FCSP).

I was anxious and not sleeping. I wasn’t sure how this was going to play out for us. I was moving through a fog. I guess, I was in disbelief that this was the place my daughters and I were in now.

I was grateful my oldest was safe at university.

Shelley’s story is, sadly, far too common. You may be aware that intimate partner violence (IPV) has increased so much that The City of Guelph has declared it an epidemic. WIC counsellors already knew this. We also know that intimate partner violence can have deadly consequences.

I don’t know where the strength came from. I was so controlled and worn down, but I knew I had to escape him. Yes, things had gotten worse over time but, strangely, it still felt like a surprise.  

We had loved each other so much, where did all of that love go?

This is a question we hear clients asking year after year. No one expects it to go this way. Shelley certainly didn’t. She kept waiting for things to improve. The thought of leaving was scary. Could she manage without him? How could she afford everything on her own? How would this impact her daughters?

I had been so worried that no one would believe me. I don’t know why, but I did. I was afraid of what people would think.

The warmth of every person at WIC was incredible. I remember being surprised by that. Like I didn’t deserve it somehow. I felt seen and heard. Most importantly, I felt believed.

We believed her. We worked out a safety plan with her. A sad essential step, as women are far more likely to be killed when actively leaving a relationship. Women are also more likely to be killed by an intimate partner than anyone else.

We provided counselling to support her recovery from the abuse, but also gave practical help. We supplied household and personal care items, generously donated to the agency by wonderful community members and local businesses.

We were living on so little by then. Honestly, it was hard to get by.

Finally, our Family Court Support Program counsellor walked alongside Shelley as she attempted to work out custody and financial issues with her former partner.

The court system was a confusing maze. I wouldn’t have made it out without my counsellor.

I didn’t know how any of it worked. There were so many stages and steps to navigate. She helped me gather all the documents the court wanted to see. I had to prepare an affidavit, this long statement of what had happened to us. That brought up a lot of unhappy memories.

I cried a lot. It was tough. Court is never easy. Without my FCSP counsellor, I don’t know how I would have managed it all.

Court is old hat to Shelley now that she is a paralegal candidate working at a local law firm. She knew she could help others make their way through the system, drawing upon her experiences. At a time when Shelley’s confidence was low, she found the strength to return to school. She has worked hard to create a better life for her daughters and herself.

I had to do the work to make this journey possible. But without the support and guidance of WIC, I wouldn’t be where I am now.

WIC helped me see the light at the end of the tunnel.

The counsellors helped me tap into my inner strength. I am proud of the person I have become. Proud of how I have overcome barriers that were put in my way.

This is our core mission… to walk with survivors as they find the light at the end of their tunnel. We exist to serve women like Shelley suffering abuse at the hands of their intimate partners. We exist to support women and gender-diverse people who have experienced any form of physical, emotional or sexual abuse. We exist to support those being trafficked as they find a way out. Then we walk with them as they regain their lives after exploitation. Without donors, we couldn’t do all of this.

I remember lying in bed at night during my healing stages, thinking one day I would like to be able to give back to WIC and the community. To help empower individuals who have experienced abuse and to share my story. To have them understand with the proper guidance and support that they can make it through too.

All of WIC’s support was free. It’s unbelievable. It was such a gift. I feel so grateful for everything.

And we are grateful to Shelley for coming forward to gift us with her story. Stories like hers are why we do what we do. Our work responding to gender-based violence matters. Our work needs to continue. Our services need to be even broader.

Supporter, you can help us do this. Without you, we couldn’t have the same impact. We simply can’t stretch our government funding as far as it needs to go to serve our clients in all of the ways they deserve. We need donors like you.

If you are able, consider investing in WIC to be part of the solution. Together, we can create a brighter future for survivors of gender-based violence. You may not be aware, but you know a Shelley. You may know several. Please show that you care.

With gratitude,

Sly Castaldi

Executive Director

P.S. – The confident woman in this picture is a testament to Shelley’s strength and resilience. Your support helped her make her way. Thank you for stepping up to make a difference. Your gifts helped us to be here for her and for all who are impacted by gender-based violence. Can you give again?

You don’t have to be hit to be hurt. •  You don’t have to leave to get help. •  You don’t have to be in crisis to call.