By Faiza Khalil
BWSS Crisis Line Volunteer
As a recent UBC graduate looking for opportunities with an altruistic, progressive, and socially responsible organization, I came across Battered Women’s Support Services (BWSS) two years ago. Since then I have become very passionate about being involved in ending violence against girls and women.
My journey at BWSS started as a volunteer on BWSS Crisis and Intake Line where I provide women with emotional support and access to services. It still feels like yesterday when I first began working on the crisis lines and thinking to myself “Can I really do this?”. Though, as soon as I picked up that first call and heard the voice on the other end, all my doubts and fears disappeared as I focused all of my energy into validating the emotions that the woman was expressing and the experiences that she had gone through. With each call I receive, I make it my goal to assess a woman’s needs and create a safe and non-judgemental atmosphere in which their well-being is made a priority and their concerns are genuinely heard. At times, the lines may become overwhelming; however, I find that it is essential to concentrate on one call at a time and to value every woman for her time and personal stories that she has been so courageous to share with me.
BWSS offers a space for every woman to grow on their own journey. The skills and experience I gained on the Crisis Line are helping me today in my role of support group co-facilitator which consists of co-facilitating group discussions on various topics as motivation, discrimination, and self-care. Being part of a group dynamic includes having in person interactions and weekly check-ins with the women. At BWSS, we see women as the expert of their experience and having women-centered approach in the drop-in group is a constant driving force for me as a facilitator. Topics that are discussed are suggestions that have been made by the women themselves and are relevant to their day to day lives. BWSS support groups have effective structure because it builds a sense of community in its welcoming, safe, and compassionate environment.
After all this time, one might ask “Why do I continue to volunteer at BWSS?”. I cannot emphasize enough how being involved with BWSS is a life changing experience and that I’m simply a woman who wants to support other women. It brings me great purpose and inspiration to be able to connect with others whether it is through a 10 minute call or an emotional support group session. The biggest changes I have seen women make are how they continue to grow building their independence and inner strength. Each day is truly an honour and a privilege to be surrounded by women who symbolize nothing but empowerment and resilience.
Read more about our 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-based Violence campaign:
If you could do something to end violence against girls and women, wouldn’t you?