Community members in the South Okanagan have been rallying to support a local GoFundMe campaign ‘Help a Family to Safety.’
Started by Bethany Handfield, who used to work for a local non-profit that helped women and young children fleeing abuse, the campaign is helping an anonymous woman and a disabled dependent seek safety from a dangerous living situation.
The online campaign states that “due to the sensitive nature of this situation we are not able to provide identifying details as the family must remain anonymous for their safety.”
Handfield said the funds collected, totalling $2,285 to date, assisted the individuals in moving and will continue to support them with the cost of living and purchasing second-hand furniture items until their income supports can be transferred.
“We surpassed our first goal of $2,000 and then extended it because the family is moving with nothing,” said Handfield. “So we wanted to get them just a little bit more money to get them some furniture. They don’t have beds or anything.”
Handfield said she cannot accept items for donation at this time and that monetary donations or gift cards for common goods stores go a long way in helping. This situation is particularly difficult because services such as a transition house in the community this family has relocated to cannot service the disabled individual.
“Because of the nature of the situation, we can’t say where this individual is. Because with social media and people being so connected these days, we just wanted to keep her and her family safe,” said Handfield. “Especially since she has a disabled dependent person living with her you know as part of her family so it was even more of a scary situation.
“If it was just her on her own, she would have just been able to go.”
Handfield said she was determined to help given her prior work experience and seeing women face these type of situations in the community. She said often people don’t realize how difficult it can be to flee from a dangerous situation, noting that abusers can be physically, psychologically, emotionally and financially abusive.
“When people flee, a good percentage of people leave with just what they’ve been able to shove in the car, what they’ve been able to have friends quickly move,” said Handfield. “Sometimes police will come and escort a move. But depending on the situation, you can be leaving with nothing
“For a lot of women, there’s financial abuse that happens because the fellows won’t give them access to money and they don’t actually own anything in the home. So even if they do come with a police escort, the guy would say ‘I bought all this, this is all mine. She doesn’t own any of it.’ and it can be a really scary situation.”
Handfield said despite the fact that the public doesn’t know many details about the woman in this particular case, the community response has been overwhelming.
“We had a family donate $1,000 — I cried,” said Handfield. “It was amazing, they all pooled their money together and were like let’s do that. It was pretty amazing.”
For those wishing to donate a gift card to the family, contact Bethany Handfield at 250-488-3646 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
To report a typo, email: email@example.com.