Violence Against Women does not only impact the woman. It impacts all who surround her. If she is a mother, violence against her will affect her child(ren) and her relationship with them. In Canada there are estimated 3,000 women with their 2,900 children who flee their homes from violence and stay at transition houses each year.
At BWSS, we recognize that women are often at the centre of the family, the community. What is done to her will ripple out to who she is connected to. Thus, in our work with women who are mothers, we explore the impact of violence on her, her children, and on her relationship as a parent. This exploration often provides insight, information, resources, and tools that empower who she is as a woman, as a mother. The transformation from disempowerment to empowerment gets modelled and seeps into her connection and parenting with her child(ren), feeding their sense of self and ways of being, feeling, and acting.
We are grateful for Mia’s sharing because it not only illustrates how by empowering women we strengthen our community. It also shows us that experiencing and/or witnessing violence does not mean “forever damaged”, a view held by some. Violence against women is a horrid experience done by another often a loved one that negatively impacts the whole being, true. However, it does not have to define and dictate who and how you are, there are ways to overcome the impact and reclaim the power to be your own person and to be the one in control of your life. Mia’s story shows us just that. Thank you Mia.
My Volunteering Experience at My Sister’s Closet
by Mia K., My Sister’s Closet Volunteer
My memories of My Sister’s Closet and BWSS reach back into my childhood. As a kid growing up with a single mom, we always found great prices at My Sister’s Closet. I was so happy to get books and toys that we would not have been able to afford brand new. I distinctly remember when my mom went to a BWSS parenting workshop and I played and ate noodles while I waited for her. After that workshop, my mom changed the way we did things at home and thanks to that parenting workshop, I grew up with the mentality that if we live together we must help each other out and not just force one person to do all the work. I also began to develop independent life skills that are preparing me for life as an adult.
My mom has a sheet of paper that she got from BWSS that says “model of a healthy relationship”. She taped it to our storage room wall and I remember as a child reading it curiously, not knowing where it came from, but still storing what I read in my mind. Every time I walked into the storage room I saw that paper, and eventually it became ingrained in me. Today, having realized how I and those around me deserve to be treated, I make sure all my relationships abide by that model.
I started volunteering at My Sister’s Closet this past April 2013. I decided to come to My Sister’s Closet because I knew what it stands for and supports, having shopped there before, and wanted to give back to community the best way I could. It has been wonderful experience. I do not only work with great clothes, but also work with many wonderful people with different skills and personalities. In the past, I had trouble fitting in, particularly in high school, but My Sister’s Closet feels just like a community. Everyone has something different to bring to the table; everyone has a different way to solve a problem. The volunteers at My Sister’s Closet are a diverse group and it is a joy every time I meet a different volunteer.
At My Sister’s Closet I learn to be accommodating because everyone has a different opinion. I develop my skills as a team player rather than an individual worker as I would usually do. We each play our strengths and cover for each other’s weaknesses and this is what makes a team work well. Coming to volunteer at the store feels like a breath of fresh air amidst the constant flood of schoolwork. I always feel like I am doing something useful when I am able to come in and leave my frustrations behind to be surrounded by everyone’s good energy, whether that be on shift, just coming into shop, or at a volunteer network meeting. Thanks to My Sister’s Closet, I feel such emotional fulfillment that material things could not give me; the fact that.
Learn more about My Sister’s Closet, social enterprise of BWSS here.
Last year, Battered Women’s Support Services responded to over 10,000 crisis calls from women and girls to get help and end violence. We could not provide this essential support without your contribution.