Woman escapes years of abuse, homelessness after moving to Calgary
robin kuniski/for metro calgary
"As a battered woman in an abusive relationship, it really defeats you. You need help but it’s not there and you have to find it for yourself. It’s very defeating as a person."
Choosing between returning to an abusive relationship and sleeping on the streets is a decision a local woman no longer has to make since moving to Calgary a year ago.
Penny (not her real name) moved to the city about a year ago looking for a new start after living for years bouncing between abusive relationships and Vancouver’s cruel streets.
“I was vulnerable for a while and it’s really hard to get back your self-esteem after an abusive situation to begin with. I moved to Calgary a year ago to get a fresh start,” Penny said.
The 56-year-old said she first experienced abuse as a child and then again with men about 25 years ago until it began a pattern that set the tone for the rest of her life — until now.
“As a battered woman in an abusive relationship, it really defeats you. You need help but it’s not there and you have to find it for yourself. It’s very defeating as a person.”
The main problem, Penny said, was that women often have to choose between a bad situation like an abuser and living on the streets — because of the lack of help out there for females in crisis.
“Of course there should be more affordable housing for women, and shelters. It’s a cycle and I know the choices I had to make were a direct result of having no place to go,” she said referring to living with an abuser.
“It was a choice between living with him or on the streets,” she said.
Penny still has to live in fear and obscurity, not giving out her phone number or address in order to protect her from possible contact with past abusers.
And while Penny considers herself one of the “fortunate few,” many others aren’t so lucky. A study conducted by the Alberta Council for Women’s Shelters (ACWS) reports that more than 25,000 women and children were turned away from Alberta shelters in 2006.
Penny said her new lease on life was a long process, but she feels as though she is finally in a better place.
“It’s a cycle of abuse and patterns and bad memories. But now I have met good people here, and I remarried. Things are going well,” she said.