2020-21 Annuals and Financials

Peer-support group class makes a difference for women leaving domestic violence

December 17, 2021

Isolated and living in a new town, Mary* took her 9-year-old daughter and left her abusive and emotionally manipulative partner. “I took my daughter in the middle of a -35-degree cold winter night to a library and from there went to an emergency shelter,” Mary explained. Only those who have been through something traumatic like Mary has, truly know how it feels. That is why Discovery House created a peer-support group to help people like Mary share first-hand experiences with others going through an unimaginable crisis.

By the time Mary left, her partner had stolen her passport, accessed her social media and bank accounts and changed her passwords, stole her important documents, and started becoming physically violent.

After staying in two emergency shelters for 11 weeks, Mary was put forward to Discovery House for support and longer-term accommodation. Discovery House helped Mary get a place of her own by providing housing support and subsidy and was able sort out schooling for her daughter. This fall, she began attending a new 8-week peer-support group organized by the clinical mental health team at Discovery House.

“Our Mental Health Team organizes counselling and therapy sessions to help the mothers and children we support heal from trauma, stress, depression, low self-esteem, anxiety and more so they can begin to rebuild their lives,” says Leslie Hill, Executive Director at Discovery House.

Mary did not know what to expect from the group, but the group made her realize that she was not alone. She now sees the other attendees as friends, decreasing her feelings of isolation. “Although sometimes it feels like you cannot rely on anybody, I have learned through this group that you cannot lose faith in humanity. I feel confident in the safety Discovery House has given me and feel empowered to share my story,” says Mary.

Inspired by the impact the group had on her and other attendees, Mary plans to go back to school to become a counsellor so she can give back to society by helping other people experiencing domestic violence. She intends to keep in contact with the other women she met in the group so they can continue supporting each other as they journey through healing and rebuilding their lives.

“If not for Discovery House, I could have still been at an emergency shelter and might have gone back to my ex-partner,” says Mary.

*Mary is not her real name. It is a pseudonym used to protect her identity.

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Charitable Registration #11882 3483 RR0001 | Alberta Societies Act Registration #50249381
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