Looking towards the holiday season at Yellow Brick House.
The holidays are a tough time, both for women who are still living in abusive relationships, and those who have found the strength to leave and are currently residing with us at one of our two shelter locations.
Many families and women feel an extra stress to have everything be “perfect” and make the holidays happy. Wanting a respite from the ongoing violence, if you will. However, research shows that in families where there is already a propensity for violence, the increased family stress comes with a lot of added pressures, particularly around finances, which in turn, leads to a spike in the violence, rather than the much longed for respite. Add in the typical increase in alcohol consumption around this time of year, and the holidays become a time of great fear and tension for many women and children.
In fact, Yellow Brick House see’s a 30% increase in crisis calls during the holidays. Our anecdotal evidence supports the idea that women simply want to “keep the peace”, and not escalate things further and call our 24/7 support line for a comforting voice, tools for dealing with their situation or even the reassurance that there is a bed if it gets “too bad”. They stay quiet and the hope that this year, for once, the holiday spirit will put an end to the abuse. Many women tell us they don’t want to disrupt the holidays for their children, and were thinking about leaving in the new year
For the women who have left, what are holidays at a shelter like?
Holidays are tough here, as you can imagine. However, we hope that even for a brief moment, the women and children staying with us find some joy and peace. Spending the holidays at a shelter is different for every woman. For some it’s a sense of relief, for others a sense of panic and fear about what the future holds can be overwhelming. We have women and children from all cultures and backgrounds, too, so the holidays don’t always have the same meaning for them all.
Happy or sad, we are here. We hold a big, multicultural, holiday dinner and at least for that meal, strangers become family and counsellors become friendly ears to share burdens with. Our Yellow Brick House families share a meal, share stories, and offer support to each other.
The holidays are a time of reflection here, as well as a time to look forward and make plans for the future. Our trained counsellors are on hand to help women and children with their transition, finding housing, dealing with financial issues, and rebuilding trust and confidence. We are here 24/7, 365 days a year to help.
Our two shelters combined have the largest amount of bed space in York Region dedicated to helping women and children fleeing domestic violence. These shelters stay open because of your financial support. Our donors keep the lights on, keep our bedrooms warm, provide things like food, and books to help women and children spend some time relaxing without the fear of retribution.
This holiday season, please consider a financial contribution for your holiday charitable gift. Keeping a warm, safe, vibrant roof over these families heads is our number one priority, and you can help.