Lorna Thomson, program manager, reflects on the resilience of women who flee domestic violence and seek shelter at Joy’s Place. Diane Strandberg
The road from domestic violence to domestic peace in the Tri-Cities travels through Port Coquitlam.
It’s at Joy’s Place, where women, often with children, make that journey from fear to strength.
In a house with 12 beds, including space for kids, these women are learning to take steps towards independence and leave behind the trauma of emotional abuse and physical harm.
“People who leave abusive situations experience loss of job, no income and upset their child’s schooling, that takes a lot of courage,” says Lorna Thomson, Joy’s Place program manager.
Details on how you can help at bottom of the story.
They arrive on the doorstep of the secure building — the address is not publicized — with little more than the clothes on their back and important documents secured away in their handbags.
From quiet networks of friends, a whisper outside a schoolyard, an alarmed police officer, they hear about Joy’s Place and call Tri-City Transitions Society.
But once they get to the home, it’s not always a relief they feel, says Thomson, who sympathizes with the women, she says, are “second-guessing,” their decision.
Housing, finances, children’s school all have to be found, says Thomson.
The COVID-19 pandemic has only intensified the women’s fears.
Instead of leaving their abusive situation, they stay, worried about exposure to the virus.
When they do finally arrive, says Thomson, “they are coming in with intensified abuse, more physical abuse, more emotional abuse.”
To support the women leaving during COVID-19, Joy’s Place adjusted their operations. But it hasn’t been easy.
Capacity has been reduced, extra PPE and cleaning materials purchased, in-person calls were replaced by telephone intake and kitchen and laundry at the home had to be scheduled.
But the biggest change in recent months has been the slow erosion of volunteers.
Even a crucial life skills program, called Resiliency, had to be cancelled.
Thomson hopes that will soon change, thanks to a new fundraising drive by a major drug store chain.
From now until Nov. 5, the Love You campaign by Shoppers Drug Mart will support Joy’s Place with 100 per cent of donations collected at cashiers.
Thomson said the money will go to the Resiliency program to help build up women’s self-esteem with life enhancement programs such as martial arts, yoga, music, arts, self-defence and cooking.
“They don’t believe in themselves,’ says Thomson, “they need something to help them focus on what they can do. Resiliency provides women with evidence — ‘yes, I can learn I can adapt, I can grow.’”
As the pandemic stretches out over months and even years, Joy’s Place hopes that it can provide that bulwark of safety to those vulnerable women who need it most.
Other ways you can help, visit www.tricitytransitions.com