For the staff of The Cridge Dovetail Program, offering women a second chance to build a life of security and fulfilment is the cornerstone of the work we do. For many of the women we work with, their time in our supportive housing is the first experience of safety in their entire lives. As a staff, we strive to ensure that we do all we can to make this second chance a success.
We recognize, however, that the pathway these women walk from violence towards safety is rocky, and sometimes completely impassable. The second chance we offer is not always possible for women. For some, it is the economic uncertainty they face: realizing that leaving the abuser means leaving financial security for themselves and their children can lead women back to the relationship. For others, it is the inability to protect their children from the abuser: when courts allow fathers partial custody, many women choose to return to him so that they can protect their kids. And yet for others, it is an addiction, brain injury, or the pull of a new relationship that impacts their journey. When the second chance falls apart, we do all we can to keep the door open. We strive to offer as many second chances as it takes.
Naomi is a mother of 2 sons. Since she left her abusive ex-husband, she has struggled financially. Her abusive ex had access to all of the family finances and the court system was taking forever to act. Coming up with the money to keep her boys clothed, fed and in their after-school activities was a huge challenge. A few months after moving into our housing, Naomi met a man in her ESL class who swept her off her feet. He offered her the love and security that she so desired, and she quickly notified us that she was moving out and into his home. We tried to persuade her to give it more time but the struggles she was experiencing, and the pull of this new “second chance,” was overwhelming.
We decided to keep the door open as wide as we could to Naomi. We stayed in touch and assured her that we would do whatever we could to offer her support if things fell apart. We prayed and prayed for Naomi and her sons. It didn’t take long for Naomi to realize that this new relationship was not the answer. Her new partner’s behaviour was beginning to resemble her ex-husband’s. She was embarrassed and ashamed to admit it, but when she did, we were able to respond to her with understanding and acceptance. By God’s grace, we had a vacant unit and she was able to move back into the program… another second chance!
We know how challenging it is for women like Naomi, and we work and pray for a system that makes it easier for women to embrace their second chance and never look back.
By Candace Stretch, Manager of Supportive Housing & Family Services