Tim Collins / News staff
It’s a place of hope; a place to go when the abuse has left you with no other options.
For 25 years, Forsythe House, also known as the Revelstoke Women’s Shelter, has operated as a place of refuge and support for women and children facing all manner of abuse. It’s a non-profit society operating on a quiet street in Revelstoke where it operates a variety of programs all aimed at giving the victims of abuse another chance at a normal life.
”Abuse comes in many guises. People automatically tend to think of physical abuse, and that’s certainly a problem, but the psychological, financial, and emotional abuse can be just as devastating,” said Allie Bruni, executive director of Forsythe House.
There are commonalities, regardless of what’s been going on to force a woman from her home, she explained.
“Women arrive at the shelter feeling isolated, often frightened and uncomfortable in their own skin. They are more often than not friendless and without a support system in Revelstoke. We take them in and give them a refuge where they can start dealing with life.”
The house operates confidentially (the address is not to be found on any web-site) and women in crisis need only call the shelter to start the process of escaping abuse.
“We operate eight beds here for women and their children when necessary. While we insist that our clients do not come with substance abuse problems, we still operate in a non-judgmental way to support these women and their families while they make the decision on what to do,” said Bruni.
“We also offer group support to women in crisis including things like transportation and accompaniment when need, as well as clothing and personal items where someone has had to leave the home suddenly.”
But beyond providing a safe haven for the victims of abuse, the shelter provides advocacy and outreach to legal services and social agencies as needed.
“Maybe the most important thing we provide is the sense that these women now have someone on their side, willing to help. And part of that help could be as simple as meeting some of the other people here and making friendships.,” said Bruni.
Within three days of entering the shelter, clients are expected to start working on a plan for what to do next. The Moving Forward Program at the shelter helps the women to find a way out of the abuse relationship. Sometimes that can be done within Revelstoke, but there are also times when the shelter will help with a relocation plan.
“That can be hard, of course, particularly if the only support circle they have is here in town, but each case is different,” said Bruni.
The shelter also operates a variety of activities on a drop in basis for women in the community who have not left the home but need a level of support. Women arrive at the shelter to take part in painting, yoga, music and more. It’s a way of normalizing life, if even for a short time, and may be enough to help some women find the courage to seek real change.
“It’s a privilege to do this work, I feel very honoured to have the chance to make a difference,” said Bruni.
To contact the shelter for help , information, or support, call 250-837-1111. More information is available at revelstokewomensshelter.com/