by Rhonda Lee Vermette
About a year ago now, I was phoning around trying to find domestic violence counselling services for myself. I had phoned a few places and as I tried to explain the situation that I had been court ordered to take domestic violence counselling, most places would not listen to me after they heard that. I had made the attempt to explain that it was not because I was an abuser, but that I was the abused and how I even got myself into the criminal activity was that I was bullied into it by my abuser, thus resulting in the domestic violence counselling sentence. I finally contacted Battered Women’s Support Services (BWSS) and they listened to what I had to say and I was in for my first session within days.
I am originally from a small Saskatchewan city and spent 15 years in an extremely abusive relationship (in every aspect) with my abuser passing away 6 months prior to starting counselling here in Vancouver. During the last 4 years of the relationship we were under investigation for drug trafficking which resulted in my sentence and during that investigation, police listened live to me being beaten and/or raped on more than one occasion but never intervened in order to protect their drug intervention. I wasn’t able to deal with the many different ways I was affected, until I had started the counselling at BWSS.
I was really lost, limiting my contact with the outside world by never leaving my house other than for appointments with physicians, lawyers or counselling sessions. I had become quite anti-social which is not normal for me. My counselling sessions have brought me to talk about the devastating things that have happened to me and the survival skills and techniques I developed over time. The abuse I had experienced over the years had changed me in so many ways that I had never even realized it. I believe my biggest issues were fear and trust. I say this because of the extreme levels of abuse I suffered and how I interacted with other people. One thing I remember is during these assaults I would wish for someone to walk in and stop them. To later find out the police were there and listening, turning blind eyes to what was happening to me, almost absolutely destroyed me.
Now that I have been in counselling for a year, I have come to terms with what happened to me was wrong and something that I can never turn the clock back on. But, I can start making changes for the future not only for myself, but for other victims of domestic violence by telling my story and how I managed to survive. BWSS has given me back my courage and strength as a woman to deal with my pain and anger. They have also made me aware that I am not alone in my suffering. They play a huge role in my path of healing and if not for them I do not know where I would be today. PRAISE to you, the staff and volunteers at BWSS, for giving me back to me, my family and the rest of the world.
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.