Childhood should be a time of excitement, good memories and personal development. But for Julie (not her real name), life at home was filled with chaos, anxiety and fear. The emotional abuse she experienced led to post-traumatic stress, depression and substance abuse. Today she is a testament to the fact that, with the right support, lives can turn around.
“My mom was an alcoholic and my dad a bully, full of rage,” says Julie. “I was called stupid and fat, humiliated in public, screamed at for no reason and witnessed verbal and physical abuse at home. There was always turmoil and I never knew what would cause an explosion. I was scared all the time. That’s what I lived with―confusion, loneliness and fear.”
Julie’s emotional scars were severe, ever-present and followed her into adulthood.
“I was always depressed and often questioned why I was alive,” says Julie. “Alcohol became my way of avoiding life. I eventually got to the point where I had no control over how much I consumed. I was too embarrassed to talk to friends or my doctor and didn’t know where to turn.”
Julie joined AA. This helped her dispel the obsession to drink. But as the fog of addiction lifted, PTSD and buried emotions left her in a perpetual state of anxiety.
“When I came to The Salvation Army’s Women’s Counselling Centre in Mississauga I was crying all the time,” says Julie. “The Salvation Army taught me coping skills and helped me work through my trauma and abuse.”
The Salvation Army’s Women’s Counselling Centre provides individual and group counselling, court and legal support, abuse-related workshops, transitional support and spiritual care to women who have experienced abuse.
“We hope our clients leave our program no longer in crisis and with coping skills that will enable them to live life more fully than they have been able to do in the past,” says Major Catherine Skillin, Director of Counselling Services. “The help we provide is short-term but will positively affect the lives of our clients for years to come.”
“I had carried my memories over 30 years and relied heavily on The Salvation Army for help,” says Julie. “The work is hard and scary but now I feel I have my feet on the ground and life is more balanced. I’m aware that there is still a lot to do and am grateful for the guidance and support that is setting me on a path to better emotional health.”