This testimony has been edited for clarity

I phoned to get into a women’s shelter; I started phoning around and that was a day or two after my daughter’s birthday. My family and I weren’t getting along so I had to get out of there. A couple of years ago, I was in an abusive relationship with my daughter’s dad. I just don’t want that in my kid’s life. I started phoning around when my family and I weren’t getting along – me and my sisters were fighting and stuff like that. I phoned [another shelter] first and they said phone here, and they said to phone [the other shelter] back again. They said there were no spaces available for me and my kids, so I phoned back here and they said I needed to be here by 8 at night. I gathered up all my things as much as I could, my daughter didn’t have any clothes or anything. They said they could help me get clothing for her.

It was hard at first, when I first got here. It was just me and my kids, I was so used to my sisters helping me from before. Both my kids got sick here. I had to do everything by myself and it was really stressful on me.

How did the shelter help?

I was on my own, but they gave me resources and transportation to my viewings and stuff like that. In women’s group, I had support and there, because I broke down from the stress on my shoulders.

What are your plans or hope for the future?

Well, I got a place [to live] within the three weeks I was here. It’s just down the road over there. I want to go back to school because I didn’t finish grade 12. I want to put my daughter into ballet.

What would you like other women to know, who are thinking about contacting a shelter?

If you in an abusive relationship, you might as well get out now. You aren’t going to get anywhere in life if you’re in a bad relationship. With a kid or two kids, it’s good to get out now. I didn’t want my kids to go through that or see that. I was sad because my daughter was seeing what her dad was doing to me. It wasn’t good; I felt bad for her and for myself. I had to get out with my daughter. I called for help and the cops helped too.

I’m glad I got out of what situation I was in, because now that I’m on my own people are starting to talk to me and come to me, tell me they want to stay with me, but I tell them no, because I don’t want the same things to happen to my kids again, I don’t want that.