YWCA Edmonton offers affordable Counselling Services using a unique model that ensures the most vulnerable clients with the highest degree of trauma receive intensive and specialized care, without cost being a barrier. Last year, we provided more than 3,800 counselling sessions to 400 clients — each with their own unique story.
In her own words, here’s one client’s story* and her experience with our Counselling Services, as she takes her first steps towards recovery.
Nadia* wandered her old neighbourhood, holding hands with the ghosts of her painful past.
“This was your old house. Do you remember the abuse, the neglect, the loneliness?” they prodded her. I do, she thought.
She could not forget, but she was hoping that the woman in the tall glass building would help her forget.
She boarded the bus to meet with the woman with the soft eyes and the gentle voice. She was scared but determined to grieve this part of her life and let it go once and for all.
She had come a long way to get to this day. The fight to reclaim her life had been arduous and daunting. She hid her pain in her smile and did not trust anyone to understand why she grieved. But, her healer never gave up, so she would not give up either.
The office was quiet as promised. Her guide led her into the space, which always made her feel safe and protected. All the little ghosts of her past settled themselves around the room, waiting expectantly.
Comfortably seated with the niceties aside, they began.
For the first time, she felt safe enough to feel the pain. She was always aware of it, but she had become adept at shutting it down with the fear and grief.
As the process unfurled, she finally broke down. All the pain that had been trapped in her heart now flowed freely. Protected and safe by the healer, a half century of tears poured forth. Sobs from the depth of her soul burst free and memories — so many memories — finally released.
The day ended with Nadia feeling exhausted, physically and emotionally. On the bus ride home, she watched the world fly by out the window. People seemed surreal and plastic. She longed for the safety of her bed.
She awoke in the grey light of dawn feeling dark and afraid. Depression crushed her heart while white hot anger flowed freely and unfocused. She wanted to drink or gamble to escape the feeling, but she told herself that it was just an emotional hangover from yesterday.
She tended her seedlings, walked in nature, and spoke to her higher power. She stayed with the darkness throughout that day.
The next day dawned grey and cold, but things had changed. The woman awoke with a light spirit and boundless energy. A deep quiet was felt in her soul, and that made her cry.
She felt this for the majority of the day and with deliberation, she sat down and sent gratitude through her higher power to the woman who was the architect to her becoming — the healer who walked beside her on this journey — and gave thanks to her for her strength, compassion, and courage.
She knew that there was still more work to be done, but her transformation had finally begun.
Each year, more and more people like Nadia come to our doors looking for help. We continue to look at innovative ways to offer services to more clients in need, but we need the help of our community if we’re to effectively address this mounting demand.
Support this year’s YWCA WALK A MILE IN HER SHOES® on September 12. When you walk or donate, you support YWCA Edmonton and help provide transformational Counselling Services for women and families affected by domestic violence. Visit our event website to get involved.
*The client’s real name has been withheld for privacy and protection. Her original story has been condensed and edited for accuracy for the purposes of this communication.