Connecting Families and Children With the Resources They Need to Heal
“When I was nine years old, the abuse my mom experienced from her boyfriend landed her in the hospital… it wasn’t long after that she arrived at the shelter with me and my two siblings in tow….” This is the story of Sarah Jansel, who stayed at Anova’s Wellington Road shelter as a child in 1991.
Sarah’s mom was a hardworking single mom of three kids, working three part-time jobs to make ends meet. When she was forced to flee her home for the safety of her and her three children, a hotel or another paid accommodation wasn’t an option. Sarah and her family left with nothing but the clothing on their backs. “To say I was scared and worried about what would happen next is an understatement. I remember feeling powerless, homeless, and I walked around in a fog of disbelief.”
The effects of gender-based violence are significant, both for people who experience violence and for people who witness it. Sarah knows firsthand that for those who have been a part of an experience like hers, those moments and memories change your life forever. “The experience never truly leaves you, but life does go on and it will get easier.” With your gift, you help connect families and children with the resources they need to heal.
“I will never forget the kindness of the staff and other residents, in those three weeks; we were taken care of, in every sense of the word.” Shelter is so much more than a place to stay: it is the first step in rebuilding lives. And it’s made possible by donors like you.
During their stay, Sarah’s mom was given gift cards to purchase clothing for their family. “I vividly remember going shopping with my mom and realizing how incredibly normal I felt for the first time in a long while.” Abusers often control, intimidate, and influence their victims. When you give, you give the gift of dignity and, stability to a family who is looking to regain their agency. “To be given something new in a time like that makes you feel good, appreciated, and like you can go on with the rest of the world – even for a nine-year-old.”
Now more than ever, we’re so grateful for you. At a time when things feel uncertain, knowing that donors like you are here to support people like Sarah encourages us to keep working to end violence. Sarah pays your kindness forward by giving back to Anova, and she hopes her story inspires you to continue to invest in a future without violence. “It brings me a world of joy to think that I’ve gone from being a kid in an Anova shelter to being a business owner in the position to offer someone what Anova offered me – a fresh start, a good feeling, and a fond memory of support when my family needed it most. I am forever grateful for the community and support for the services that Anova offered us at such a challenging time.”
Sarah’s story is one of hope, but there are still many more women and children in our community who are in danger. The pandemic has made intimate partner violence more common – and often more severe. Approximately every six days, a woman in Canada is killed by her intimate partner – including a local mother of two in March.
Thank you for your gifts of shelter and support for women and children experiencing violence.
Have you ever felt unsafe and scared, and powerless to escape or protect yourself?
This is the experience of many people Anova supports, but our dedicated Crisis & Support Line volunteers help change this experience for survivors, by creating genuine connections and space for challenging conversations. Hear more about the power of connection from one of our volunteers, Jordan.
These life-saving experiences are made possible by supporters like you. Give today, and help ensure more survivors have access to this powerful service. Together, we can provide hope and safety.
Sarah’s Story: Shelter Is So Much More Than a Roof
Gender-based violence comes in many forms. When most people hear the word “abuse,” they think of physical or sexual violence. But the truth is, abuse can manifest in many other ways – ways that are difficult to recognize. Sarah was afraid to talk to her husband and she covered up his bad behavior. She felt uncomfortable leaving their children at home with him and always felt better when she was away from him… but he never hit her. As Sarah describes it, she was “living in a fog.”
What Sarah was experiencing in her marriage was abuse, that came in the form of verbal, emotional, psychological and financial manipulation. Then, one night her husband laid his hands on their daughter, and she knew it was time to leave.
Sarah and her two young children left their home, a home mostly bought and paid for by Sarah with nothing but the clothes on their back. They couch surfed for months before finally being introduced to Anova’s Second Stage Housing program. This rent-geared-to-income 25-unit apartment complex offers housing to women and children who require safe, medium security, affordable housing. It’s a frontline response of care and safety that moves beyond emergency support.
Sarah and her children made a home at Second Stage. “Living with other people, you are always on your best behavior, you can’t be yourself. I was worried the kids would break something.” Anova helped Sarah furnish their new apartment and introduced her to the Family Court Support program, a program for folx who are navigating the family court system after leaving an abusive relationship. When Anova sat with Sarah in court and guided her through her separation, she was supported in a system that is inherently unequal and puts undue pressure on survivors.
Thanks to the financial support of donors like you, Sarah was not alone. We know violence is cyclical and that it has a profound effect on children long into their lives. Because of you, Sarah’s children got a fresh start. Because of you, Sarah’s story is a story of hope. Sarah is now living on her own, her children are grown and doing well and Sarah realized that she actually enjoys staying home.