"We've had the strength to make it this far..."

BESS Grad - Welcome Screen.jpg

Last month, we held a graduation ceremony for our BESS clients. Here's an excerpt from our valedictorian's speech: 

"I had failed for the first time in my life. I thought I could make it work, I believed he would change. I had hoped that the abuse wouldn't get worse. I had brought shame to myself and my family. I didn't want to face anyone or talk to anyone, so I isolated myself. I thought that I had lost all my potential. I thought about the friends and family that I had hurt and cut off. I thought about the job, networking and volunteering opportunities that I had missed. I was still in survival mode-still living in bags and with pieces of papers with emergency phone numbers on them. I was broken down from a strong girl who could take on any challenge to a girl who forgot how to smile and forgot how to speak. My dearest family and friends did not know what I was going thru because I became a pro at being invisible and hiding (or blending into the background).

The BESS program was the best 2 weeks of this year. My confidence was ruined and this program helped me rebuild my confidence. I hated waking up because I felt I had no purpose, but the two weeks were heaven sent because I was early every day for those two weeks because I loved waking up with somewhere to go.

I met people from different backgrounds and different situations. All of them are amazing and strong women. Many of the women were able to smile despite of the struggles of everyday life and the crosses they were carrying from the past.

I learned how to organize my job search and how to be confident in my interviews. I learned how to dress and look confident even though I may not feel confident. Even what I am wearing today is from this program. I wouldn't be able to afford something like this nor would it be my priority to get a professional suit.

I didn't want the program to end. I learned a lot about myself during the 2 weeks. I am honest and strong willed. I would have stayed in the abusive and dangerous situation if my little brother did not witness some of the abuse.

I was always told that I was worthless, stupid and I was going to be alone forever but [he was] wrong. I am worth something, I'm not stupid, I am far from being alone.

Soon after the BESS program I went to see the Job Developer Monique and it was embarrassing, but I cried in her office. I felt frustrated and cursed. I had the qualifications and I knew that I could do anything, but there were still no jobs for me. She gave that extra push to keep going. Later I received teaching job offers from China, Japan, and Nunavut all within a week.

I went into the program thinking like a victim and feeling sorry for myself. I came out of the program thinking like a survivor and proud of my accomplishments.

This time last year, I felt like I was locked away in a basement with no hope. Today although I don't have much I am the happiest I have ever been in my life [... ] I don't know what the future holds but I know that we can overcome any challenges that may come our way. We've had the strength to make it this far while others may still be trapped and may never leave.

Thank you to the ladies who took part in the BESS program, for sharing their stories and being a part of my healing process and letting me be a part of their healing process. Thank you to all the staff at Interval House. You guys give hope to the hopeless and that is real strength. Your presence helps more than you know. Good luck to everyone on their journeys. We must never forget our values, our strengths and our hope. Although every day brings us a new challenge to accomplish we must remember that "Things don’t go wrong and break your heart so you can become bitter and give up. They happen to break you down and build you up so you can be all that you were intended to be." (Charles Jones)"