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“When women come to Interval House, I want them to be able to see themselves as more than victims and statistics,” says Paula, Supervisor for the Women and Children’s Program. “I want them to see that they are the leaders in their own lives.” Paula says the programs are never one-size-fits-all; they are customized to meet the needs and requests of individual Interval House families.
One group counselling program called Nobody’s Perfect reminds women there is no perfect parent and offers strategies for overcoming issues as they arise. Other life-skills workshops might deal with dental hygiene, sexual health or budgeting for groceries. There are court support programs to help women better understand the legal system as well as a hands-on employment-readiness program called BESS with the ultimate goal of economic stability. Each program aims to offer very practical tools as well as focusing on deeply personal issues such as independence, self-esteem, healthy relationships and developing boundaries.
Some programs benefit both women and children. Expressive Art is a type of counselling that allows artists of all ages to share their emotions and feelings without words. Paula says this is especially helpful for kids who may not even know what they are feeling. Each workshop begins with a theme, such as: Walk a day in my shoes. “It’s very powerful to see the women express themselves,” says Paula, “We have had women fill a shoe with rocks or put nails on it and tell us that life with the abuser felt like walking on nails every day.”
Social activities are another important part of our Women’s Group, a reminder for women to take a little time for herself, apart from her children. “We’ve had lovely donors who have given us tickets to Raptors games or plays and the women love them,” says Paula. “It’s a chance for them to really get to know one another and to know that they’re going to be okay.”
To learn more about how your contributions support our women’s and children’s programs, visit www.intervalhouse.ca/residential-program or call 416-924-1411 ext. 238.