A new women’s shelter, Women & Children Precious Shelter, is set to open early next year in Brampton, just as studies have shown violence against women and children on the rise due to the isolation and quarantine measures created by the pandemic.
Tamara Whilby, a nurse and director of the new shelter, said she has seen the growth of cases and the direct impact of the virus on the community around her.
“Being a frontline worker in the industry that I’ve worked for over ten years. We were able to come across a lot of abused women that had children that were fleeing abuse and had nowhere to go,” said Whilby.
Whilby shared an experience she had with one of her patients that underscored the need for resources like the new shelter.
“We usually do a checklist of requirements, and as she came into my room. I could see that she wasn’t focused on what I was asking her. Her mind wasn’t there,” said Whilby.
Whilby proceeded to stop the interview and ask if she was ok.
“No, I’m not. My husband is in the waiting room for me, and I don’t know what to do,” said Whilby.
She continued to question the patient.
“I asked what happened. And she started to explain that she was in an abusive relationship,” said Whilby. “And she can’t leave. Her mom is abroad. They have kids, and he monitors everything and everywhere she goes.”
The Canadian Women’s Foundation reports that four out of 10 women experience some form of violence from an intimate partner. Research also shows that a Canadian woman is killed by her partner every six days.
“Imagine being trapped in that. That individual not being able to get away from her situation, and even if she attempted, he was right there.”
Whilby’s concerned got her thinking.
“What is it that we can do to help individuals? It could be your sister, your mom, a friend, a colleague, it could be anyone,” said Whilby.
Whilby decided to band together with a team that includes two doctors, a nurse practitioner, a social worker, a case manager, a registered early childhood educator, a program manager, and a financial administrator.
“Who fills that gap to make sure that woman is safe? And that her children are safe,” said Whilby. “Who is taking the initiative with that situation?”
Whilby recognizes that the work will not be easy, but it is necessary.
“We can actually save a life,” said Whilby.
“My goal is to help women and children to be safe. To have them in a situation where they are free from abuse and get the help they need. And not just to be safe, to help them to mentally overcome their situation,” said Whilby.