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Community support crucial to supporting victims of abuse

(NC) When Haydee first met her now ex-husband, he was very charming. But after they moved in together he became more and more controlling — she felt like she was living in a boot camp.

At the time, they were living in Argentina, her native country. They moved to Canada and hoped things would be better, but they got worse. Her husband broke dishes, threw things, screamed, and threatened. He had no “off” button. Haydee was losing her spirit and passion for life. It got to the point where she didn't recognize herself.

The day before Christmas, Haydee and her daughter ran to the window to witness the magic of the first snowfall and noticed that the Christmas tree was on the front lawn, the branches scattered like lost children. The wings of the crystal angel were broken. Haydee knew then she had two choices: leave or become a statistic. She left with her daughter, taking only a small suitcase and some family photos.

Initially, they slept on the floor of an unfurnished basement apartment. Haydee's daughter would whisper, “You are my hero. I know we will make it.” The words and trust kept her going, but she was ashamed and blamed herself.

“I felt alone on a life raft, in the middle of a dark ocean,” she recalled. “I would ask my counselor at Dixon Transition House, which was supported by a grant from the Canadian Women's Foundation, to tell me success stories about other women, and it was like seeing the light from a lighthouse.”

Slowly but steadily, the winds of freedom created new hope for Haydee and her daughter. The RCMP kept them safe and they furnished an apartment and bought a Christmas tree. Haydee started to find her voice and shape her destiny, breaking the cycle of violence for her and future generations of women. She now educates other women and the public on the issue of domestic violence.

For Haydee and her daughter, their own determination and strength were crucial. But without help from the community, they said, plus the programs supported every year by the Canadian Women's Foundation and its Annual Campaign to End Violence Against Women, they could not have transformed from victims to victors.

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