Women Helping Women to End Violence Against Women

in their lives, in community, in society


Spring session Violence Prevention and Intervention Training wrapped up today.  For twelve weeks, 19 women got together every Friday to learn the skills it takes to support women who are dealing with violence and abuse.  We hold two sessions a year in the spring and fall.

The training is a personal journey of exploration and examination of the social issues and constructions that contribute to violence against women and contribute to women being trapped in violence and abusive situations.  Through each session, delivered by experienced Battered Women’s Support Services staff, trainees learn the skills to answer our crisis line, often the first point of contact for women dealing with violence, trainees learn how to conduct a thorough assessment of women’s needs, learn crisis intervention skills, including safety planning, risk and lethality assessments, information, emotional support, referrals to external supports like transition houses and connecting women to Battered Women’s Support Services wrap around services including support groups, counselling, police and court accompaniment, employment programming.

Our crisis line is busy, every morning when we open, our telephone lines light up and women come to our door. Last year we received over 9,500 request for support. Women who attend our training volunteer and join our staff on the front-line providing critical support services to women survivors of violence.

Our volunteer team has peaked this year with 38 women answering the crisis line and our volunteers also facilitate support groups. Support groups are at the centre of our support services, where at any given time there are eight groups running. Support group facilitation skills to connect women, to help alleviate the isolation women endure in abusive relationships are also taught during the twelve week training.

This spring session, led by Jaclyn Sauer and Rosa Elena Arteaga and supported by the entire BWSS staff team, brought together an amazing group of women who are committed and determined to make a difference in the lives of women in dealing with violence.

Beatrice, first heard about Battered Women’s Support Services training from her career counsellor.  “I heard it was the best training around.” Beatrice said when asked why she joined BWSS.  “I have had a lot of life experiences, I have been on the other side of the phone.  When I joined the training my intention was to support women. I learned that NO human being has the right to oppress another human being and that violence against women is a social problem not just about the individual women.  That it is a problem of society.  I  learned about empowerment and how to use empowerment to help women.”

At the centre of abusive relationships are power imbalances and control.  Beatrice added, “I learned how to stand next to women to help women to make their own decisions.”

Buffy Irvine, who completed the training today said, “The training was amazing!  Though I have a lot of personal history exploring these issues, I have never felt or had the chance to express my ideas. I have often felt inarticulate and awkward. Being in the training has given me the opportunity to say the things I believe in, also listening to other people weaving that into the complexity confirming my belief that everyone faces things differently no matter how similar our experiences.”

When asked about how she feels now that the training has ended, Buffy said, “I am here, I am really emotional that we have to leave the training, at the same time I have learned so much and so much about myself.”

Applications to our training have never been higher, though we accept up to 22 women each training, 60 women are currently on the waitlist for the fall session. To address the need we have initiated Strategic Interventions a fee for service training program which will launch in October 2011.

“I feel so incredibly lucky that I was selected to be a part of this group and to be in this space.  It is so important to be there and to listen to each woman.” Buffy continued,   “I loved it!  At the beginning I was sort of scared.  I wondered what kind of feminist organization BWSS was.  The training was so supportive, safe, I kept being told that ‘we want you to learn and to ask questions’.’”

“Women with their Masters degrees, women who are coming out of the sex trade and addiction, all of us are learning together, it has been wonderful to have that balance.” said Beatrice,  “I so admire the dedication BWSS gives to ensure we are giving the best support for women”



To learn more about BWSS Prevention and Intervention Training email Jaclyn at intake@bwss.org