Raelynn came to Covenant House Vancouver to find sanctuary after fleeing an abusive and manipulative relationship. I was struck by how someone who presented as so mature, independent, and strong could have found herself in a situation where she was made to feel like she didn’t matter, where she was called names, and faced other abuse.
*Raelynn would laugh when telling me the kinds of things her ex would say to her. Things that were in no way funny. But this was how she’d learned to cope, due to past experiences of abuse and neglect. She’d tried to leave many times before, but he’d convinced her to return every time. Raelynn finally felt like she was free, but now she had new challenges, being homeless and jobless in a brand-new city. In addition, she’d connected with an old friend who she was being an emotional support, as this friend had recently experienced her own significant trauma.
Throughout her entire stay with us, I can’t recall a time when Raelynn ever uttered a word of complaint. She would talk about her situation in the most philosophical of ways. She was very aware of the chain of events that bought her to where she was and all she wanted was to be free of her ex and to be independently able to support herself. Raelynn was pushing every day to achieve the goals she’d set for herself. It was very inspiring to witness. I had to keep reminding her that it was ok to be vulnerable sometimes and to ask for help and support. She was just so used to taking everything on herself and laughing the bad times off. I told her that this is what we’re here for as youth workers to support in the good times and the not-so-good ones.
Raelynn opened up about what happened to her friend and the impact that it was having on her. We were able to provide her with the details of another great resource in Vancouver that she could refer her friend to. This was a huge weight off Raelynn’s shoulders and allowed her to focus more on herself.
Raelynn was determined to prove to herself that she could be independent. Her other youth workers and I helped where we could with her resume and looking over job applications, but all the hard work was done by her. She constantly amazed me by continuing to attend job interviews and house viewings even after experiencing rejection and disappointment. She would take it all in her stride, and although she was frustrated, she would persist with optimism. Raelynn used to tell me how grateful she was to have a place to stay while she was sorting her life out. I’d tell her how grateful I was to have met such an inspiring person!
Finally, Raelynn found both a job and an apartment. She was ecstatic. She was committed to knowing what she wanted out of life and going for it, even with all the challenges she’d faced. But during one of our last meetings, Raelynn said that she didn’t know what she would have done without Covenant House Vancouver. She said she’d probably still be living with her ex, and even if she did leave if it wasn’t so comfortable and supportive here, she’d probably have returned to him.
I realized that even the bravest, spirited, and most resilient people sometimes just need a little bit of help. We helped to change the trajectory of Raelynn’s life just by being there for her when she needed someone. But she did all the hard work, and I have no doubt she will continue to thrive as a strong, independent woman.
Shared by a Youth Worker from our Crisis Program
*Raelynn name has been changed for her confidentiality but her story is real.