Updated: Nov 6
I began my career as a Caseworker for the Social Services Department and then, continued on as a Community Worker for the Women's Employment Support Project. Some of the clients that I worked with were women who had experienced domestic violence and had hopes of beginning a new life for themselves. There were two cases in particular that have always stood out in my memory.
The first took place when I was a Caseworker being called to go to the home of a middle-aged woman who was living in an affluent neighbourhood. When I reached her home, I thought perhaps that this was a case of someone who was going through a bankruptcy. However, as she answered the door, I realized the situation was not what I had anticipated.
She stood at the door looking pale and shaken. I came to learn that her husband had beaten her and had emptied their bank account. The police had been notified and there was a restraining order in place.
The second case was of a young woman who had hopes of starting a career. She was attending a career planning workshop that I was facilitating and, on the third day of a week-long workshop, she came to my office to tell me that she could no longer attend. Initially, I was concerned that something had been said in the workshop that had bothered her but as our discussion continued, her situation became clear. Tears started streaming down her face as she told me that her partner would not let her come to the workshop anymore.
I still remember my discussion with her, as I gave her information about the women's shelter and she promised me that she would consider calling them. I remember thinking afterwards that the very fact that she came to tell me, in person, that this on its own was a sign of courage and it left me feeling hopeful that she might find the courage to leave the situation that she was in.
All these years later, I've often wondered what became of these women. I'll never know how their lives unfolded but my hope is that for any woman reading this story, just know that there are other women out there who can relate to your story and will help you to find your way to a brighter future.
I'd like to end with a quote by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., "our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter." May you find the courage to reach out to someone who cares.
Ruth has worked in the field of employment counselling for a period of 25 years and has loved the opportunity to help individuals reach their career goals. She is passionate about the need for improving the mental health of individuals and the need to ensure that all people have access to a safe and supportive work environment.