“I didn’t want to testify. I was too scared… It wasn’t until I agreed to testify that I knew there was no going back to the abuser.”
Jessie is gut wrenchingly honest. It has been three years since she left her partner. The hardest part, she said, is “missing him” - even three years later. Now a single mother of two children, she reminds herself that “my worst day with my kids is always better than my best day with him.” Looking back, Jessie explained that she didn’t realize how bad it was until after she left.
Concerned for her safety, Jessie’s victim service worker at Surrey Women’s Centre worked closely with the police, Crown, and child welfare to protect Jessie and her children. Then it came time to testify. “Everyone was clear from the beginning that it was my decision and I would be supported either way. I went from being a hard no to feeling so safe and validated that I agreed to testify. I remember thinking if I jump, there is a safety net that I have never had before…so, I am going to jump.”
Jessie took a huge leap of faith. A month before the trial, she agreed to testify. Upon hearing this, her partner pled guilty and was sentenced to 3.5 years in jail. Luckily, Jessie never had to go through the experience of testifying. “It wasn’t until I agreed to testify that I knew there was no going back to the abuser.” Everybody working together to support me without judgement made it possible for me to take the next step forward.”
Now Jessie has committed herself to recover loudly. “I need to be loud and speak my truth so women who are suffering maybe won’t feel alone. It is because women shared their stories on public platforms that I was able to recognize the violence I endured was much worse than I ever thought.” I am not the same person I was when I first walked into Surrey Women’s Centre; I realize my own strengths. I went from feeling worthless to knowing who I am and the power I hold as a woman. I am now in a position to help other women on their own journey because The Surrey Women’s Centre gave me a platform to use my voice to help others.” Jessie is the most recent recipient of Surrey Women’s Centre’s Champion of Change award. She has a clear purpose for her life. Jessie just finished a social work program specializing in addictions and recovery, but her goal is to be a victim service worker so she can help women, like her, escape domestic violence. “If my lived experience can make a difference in another women’s life than that is what I want to do with my life.”
Jessie is one of this year’s Faces of Courage.