dr martens flats A story of help and hope
‘Sarah’ (not her real name) is sharing her story of domestic abuse to let other women out there know there is help, there is a way out.
“I was abused, my [children] were abused verbally and I found the Naomi Society through the RCMP and, from there, Child Services (also) gave me the recommendation of the Naomi Society,” Sarah said. “I didn’t know about the Naomi Society, I had no idea and here I am.”
Naomi Society executive director Michelle Keats noted Sarah is no longer in that abusive relationship, that she managed to get out and is learning the tools to survive on her own.
“And doing a fabulous job with that,” Keats said, as Sarah smiled and thanked her.
“Keeping yourself and your family safe is so important,” Keats added as Sarah nodded.
The Naomi Society is involved in a campaign which started in early December and was initiated by the Transition House Association of Nova Scotia (THANS) in partnership with the Nova Scotia Advisory Council on the Status of Women and Halifax Regional Police.
Naomi Society is a member organization of THANS.
A couple of key components of the campaign are the idea that abuse doesn’t only have to take the look of bruises and broken bones physical and the message that organizations, such as the Naomi Society, are there to listen and be supportive, the ‘We Can Just Talk’ aspect.
“We don’t even have to know your name,” Keats said.
Sarah noted why the ‘We Can Just Talk’ message appealed to her.
“Just being there and listening to me not telling me but guiding me,” she said.
Keats talked about wanting to bring more awareness to the society overall.
“What we’re hearing a lot is; ‘there are a lot of stories, a lot of articles but nobody tells us where to go to get help they leave us hanging. I read that but where do I go to get help,'” Keats said in providing examples of the unawareness.
“[Sarah] was referred to us by the RCMP but what if it’s not somebody who is involved with the RCMP or the Department of Community Services and they want to know where to reach out for help this is about getting a campaign out there so they know there are services and help. Often, until you’re faced with a situation, a situation you never thought you would be faced with, you don’t know.”
Both women talked about the forms of abuse that aren’t depicted in images of black eyes and slings, such as verbal, financial and psychological.
“It can often start with, ‘you’re not going out this door,
‘ ‘who were you talking with today,’ Keats said, providing a couple of examples.
“Nip it now while it’s at verbal and help protect yourself and stay safe. It can, not always in some cases, progress to physical. But in some it does progress verbal, emotional and psychological to the financial to the physical, depending on the nature.”
Sarah talked about her particular case of abuse.
“You can’t go shopping, you’re not allowed to go anywhere today, you have to stay in the house, the kids can go as far as the front yard, you don’t do anything until I get home, you don’t spend any money, nothing you clean the house,” she noted as personal examples and when asked if it did progress to the physical, answered with a soft but definitive “yes.”
Sarah added she wanted to show her children a different world than the isolated, controlling one being created by their father.
“I want them to experience that friends [are important] , family too, but you need friends, need to be outgoing,” she said. “I want everything to be different for them I don’t want them to be isolated, have no friends, be in the house. They have more freedom now than they’ve ever had.”
Asked about a final message she wanted to relay to women who may be in an abusive relationship, Sarah came back to the message of “there is help.”
“If they just want to talk, they don’t have to be scared,” she said. “A lot of women are scared out there,
they don’t want to do it because they’re scared ‘what is he going to do?’