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The other side of fear

She was shocked the first time it happened. Her husband hit her in the middle of an argument and gave her a black eye. He apologized and promised it would never happen again.

But then, there was a second time. And, a third time. And, too many times to count after that. Eventually, the abuse stretched into years. Fear, shame, and exhaustion became normal. After a particularly explosive episode, she knew enough was enough.

She took her son and left their home, along with the years of physical, verbal, and emotional abuse suffered at the hands of her husband.

A lifeline on the lake

They sought refuge at a shelter and in the months that followed, they began their long path to recovery. It wasn’t easy, especially for her son. She watched as he struggled to process the years of abuse and adjust to their new reality.

To help, her counsellor suggested they attend Lakeside Haven, a healing retreat YWCA Edmonton hosts at Camp Yowochas.

The retreat is specifically for women and children who have experienced family violence and are currently living at a shelter. It offers a safe, nurturing space to heal and explore all the fun activities that camp has to offer.

It truly is an oasis for families, and that’s exactly what this one needed.

Reconnecting as a family

Her son was quiet for most of the morning, as they rode the bus to camp. He was quiet most days since arriving at the shelter.

It was a brisk spring day, but their group’s camp counsellor instantly made them feel warm and safe. A psychologist from the YWCA was there for extra support too.

At their first activity — the low ropes course — she could feel it. An old bond between them slowly started to come back to life.

As her son navigated the course, he knew with each step that he could count on his mom to protect him from falling, or to catch him if he did. She knew that her son could conquer the course — or any challenge, for that matter — and succeed.

Together, they were strong. Resilient.

Resilience in action

The rest of the weekend was magical. Every day was an adventure and a chance to make new, lasting memories together.

To this day, she can still hear her son’s squeal of excitement from the zip-line. She can still see his smile after scoring a near bulls-eye on the archery course. And, she can still feel the warmth of his hand in hers as they walked down to the campfire each night.

In many ways, Lakeside Haven saved their family and, in her own words, helped them “find out what’s on the other side of fear.”

Help more women and families find out what’s on the other side of fear. To find trust, healing, love… and maybe even canoe trips together on the lake. Please include the YWCA on your list of gift recipients. You can donate easily online.

On behalf of the women and families we serve, thank you.

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