One NYWC group participant* shares her healing journey.
I started with Discovering our Power, the first part of the series. Zoryana was one of the facilitators at the time. I wasn’t sure what to expect when I attended the first day and was feeling a little nervous, but by the second or third week, I could see how great the facilitators were and how they truly cared about empowering women. One of the things I liked best about the program was the diverse range of people. Cultural background, socio-economic status or relationship status didn’t matter: we were all treated as equals and we treated each other the same way. Everyone offered very different perspectives because of our personal experiences growing up and the things we survived, no matter how big or small. I liked the fact that no matter where we were in the healing process, we all treated each other with kindness, dignity, respect and compassion. It was truly a safe place.
“I learned that I mattered.”
When I started the program, I was going through a particularly challenging time because of toxic family members. I felt really lost. My career had gone majorly offtrack and I had lost my sense of identity and self worth. Through the Women’s Empowerment Series, I learned that I mattered and that nobody had the right to make me feel “lesser than” because of past mistakes or professional disappointments.
One facilitator, Leanna, worked with me one-on-one through weekly sessions and helped me name what was happening to me at home. I was being verbally and emotionally bullied and abused by a family member. Being able to put a label on what was happening at home was truly life changing. You can’t fix a problem if you don’t know what you’re dealing with. I was running in circles blaming myself, not fully realizing how much toxicity I was living in and the toll it was taking on my emotional and physical health. Also, I had this preconceived notion that “real” abuse is physical violence, but through NYWC I was able to label the dysfunction and abusive behaviour. I also learned to advocate for myself and discovered tools to deal with aggressive and abusive people in my life.
“This program helped me recognize that I am perfect just the way I am.”
I think the most important aspect of the third part of the Women’s Empowerment Series – Asserting Ourselves – is that it helped me reconnect with myself and stand a little taller, stronger and prouder. I spent so many years playing the victim because things in my life did not go the way I planned. This program helped me recognize that I am perfect just the way I am, and that I have absolutely nothing to prove to anyone. It helped me to accept and love myself and not to be dependent on anyone for approval or acceptance. It taught me to approve and love myself, unconditionally.
I also received a lot of support from other NYWC staff members like Taraneh. I was going through what I felt was an awkward growing phase, and she really helped me feel heard and get connected to additional resources that I needed. Her knowledge of all the various life skills topics we discussed in our drop-in group was truly impressive. She’s a wonderful facilitator.
I’m also grateful to Iris, who runs North York Women’s Centre. From the first time I met her at the 30th Anniversary party, she made me feel so welcomed and heard. Whenever I reached out to her for help, she did her absolute best to try and help me. I was truly touched that she put me first as a client. The NYWC team are wonderful group of women, and they deserve praise for lifting up women who need support.
I am now proud to say that I have completed the entire three-part series. I’m really looking forward to the next stage of my life feeling empowered and beautiful and to loving myself exactly as I am. If you haven’t taken the Women’s Empowerment Series yet and are looking to learn valuable life skills to be the very best version of yourself, I highly recommend it. All women and those that identify as women deserve to be happy and love ourselves. We’re worth it!”
* Note that we have withheld the name of the participant to protect her safety and anonymity.
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