• YWCA Week Without Violence

Obstacles, roadblocks and detours

Social Change

Many women who experience violence from an intimate partner will agree with Beverly Gooden that leaving him is a process, not an event. And sometimes it takes a while to navigate through the process. Beverly, a writer who started the Why I stay campaign and who personally experienced violence from her ex-partner, explained in a series of tweets the many reasons it took her so long to get out. And from yesterday’s blog post we learned one of those reasons: women are afraid to lose custody of their children.

For Sandra, one of our Single Mothers’ Support Services’ clients, the process took 20 years. She hid it from her family and felt alone after years of being in an abusive relationship. "I packed my bags and moved to Vancouver with my three kids.” Sandra’s story is a common one; like many women, she hoped that her partner would change and that things would get better.


Why doesn’t she just leave?
Some people – meant as an honest inquiry – ask that question. Leslie Morgan Stenier -- a writer and advocate for survivors of intimate partner violence — which includes herself -- said that this is the saddest and most painful question that people ask, because victims know something you usually don’t.

“If you are in an abusive relationship, leaving is not that simple,” says Irene McLellan, support worker at YWCA Arbour House. “Domestic violence survivors have to face multiple barriers before, when and after leaving an abusive relationship.”  

The lack of information about supports and being isolated by abusive partners makes it difficult for women to find help and/or leave.  It is our job as a community to let them know that there are supports, what they are and how to access them. Check out the YWCA Metro Vancouver Stopping the Violence brochure for local organizations supporting women leaving abuse. Women in abusive relationships will attempt to leave many times. Only when they have enough supports and can navigate complicated legal, child welfare, housing, and income support systems are they able to leave successfully.


Finding support through the YWCA

“Before leaving I was not aware of all of the supports available to women leaving abusive relationships. I can’t say that knowing about them earlier would have meant I would have left earlier, but it may have given me a little more faith when I took that scary leap of faith.”

To learn more about the YWCA Violence Prevention  program and how you can financially support this program, contact Amy Juschka at ajuschka@ywcavan.org | 604 895 5810 

Why doesn’t she just leave? It’s not that easy.

YWCA Week without Violence (October 13-19) is a national week of violence prevention. To learn more about #NotThatEasy visit our campaign page. Tomorrow’s blog post will focus on financial independence and security, another barrier in leaving abusive relationship, so stay tuned.

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