For Laurie*, MCC B.C.’s End Abuse program was a blessing that couldn’t have come at a better time in her life.
Laurie, whose last name, photo and location aren’t being used for her safety, faced emotional and physical abuse at the hands of her then-husband, whom she was married to for more than 15 years.
Several months after she left him, she took part in the MCC B.C. program.
“The help provided by the End Abuse program is unique. In fact, calling it ‘help’ seems inadequate because it was actually life-saving. I consider End Abuse to be my Mile Zero of a new life,” she says.
End Abuse falls under MCC Canada’s Abuse Response and Prevention umbrella. It involves support groups for women in intimate partner abuse situations, groups for men who want to voluntarily learn healthier ways of being in relationships and education for those wanting to volunteer.
I consider End Abuse to be my Mile Zero of a new life." - Laurie, End Abuse participant and volunteer.
Laurie started out by taking part in a support group for women.
“By attending the class week after week, I realized that I was in an environment where it was safe to tell my truth, to name the experiences I had kept hidden, to stake out personal territory in my heart and soul, to say without shame ‘this happened to me and it was not my fault,’” she explains.
Laurie learned so much from the support group, she took part in a training session this past March to become a volunteer leader.
Elsie Goerzen serves as MCC B.C.’s End Abuse program coordinator and says the training sessions are open to anyone.
“It’s to help people understand abuse in relationships and recognize the occurrence of it. We know that one in four women experience abuse in domestic situations and it’s the same in the church community as it is elsewhere. The difference is that Christian women stay longer because they take their vow seriously and don’t see that there’s any way out,” Goerzen says.
Laurie says her learning process is still ongoing, but she feels strong enough to support others now.
“I’ve been pulled from the river, and now I’m on the riverbank, offering a hand to others.” - Laurie
“I am still implementing the teaching I received in that year at End Abuse, grateful for the foundation it has provided in my life. And out of that gratitude, I volunteered to be an assistant or co-facilitator to be part of such a vital work,” she says.
She adds: “I’ve been pulled from the river, and now I’m on the riverbank, offering a hand to others.”
Laurie works as a teacher in B.C. and says her experience from End Abuse is starting to find a place in her classroom.
“For the teenagers in my classroom it can be giving them a language to understand their own home dynamic or something that’s happening in the life of a friend. That’s been something where I’ve created more space, a vocabulary to talk about this year,” she says.
For Goerzen, walking alongside women who have experienced intimate partner abuse is an honour.
“It is a privilege to walk beside women like Laurie as they pursue the journey of healing. The courage, resilience, and hope of the women we meet is inspiring,” she says.