November is Domestic Violence Awareness Month and abuse is a deep-rooted issue for many women that enter an addictions centre.
Edee Frank is a recovery counsellor at the Charis Centre in Winnipeg, which is a part of Union Gospel Mission.
"Charis Centre is our women's addiction treatment program. We have a 30-day program called BREATHE which is introductory. Then we have a 12-month HEART program for women processing through addiction, and after that, we have second stage."
When women enter the program at Charis, they move into the building as this is a residential program in which they can fully immerse themselves in healing, and get back to their families.
The facility can normally fit between 40 and 45 women at a time. Right now the centre has just under 20 because of the pandemic.
"Many of our women have experienced [domestic violence] or grew up with violence in their homes," says Frank.
There have been misunderstandings of women in abusive situations, which is part of bringing awareness to Domestic Violence Awareness Month.
"It's hard for women to admit what they're experiencing sometimes. At times they're being threatened if they tell," says Frank.
"We find when it comes to women who've been abused and in addictions that they're kind of overlapping. They come to us for their addiction but abuse is sort of crouching at the door."
As COVID-19 has driven many families to spend more time at home, domestic violence has the potential to increase.
"The fear is that when they leave [the program] they'll go back to that addiction because it was a relief. It provided relief from the pain they were living. I find with domestic abuse, so often it's about power and control and the woman who is experiencing it is being controlled."
With a lack of feeling in control, addiction becomes a way some women survive abuse in the home, according to Frank.
"While addiction becomes obvious, it's not really the main problem. It becomes the main problem but a problem is they don't know how to get help."
Faith in God and His love is foundational in the programs the Charis Centre and staff offer so that women start to feel worthwhile again.
"Even here sometimes they have trouble admitting that that's going on until we start laying out in some of the courses or one-on-one counselling where we start laying out the love of God. They have trouble believing that they're worthy of love."
If someone suspects that there is domestic violence in a neighbour's home, Frank has some advice.
"The one thing is to not judge what's going on in the home by what you think you see outside, because 'he's such a nice guy'. There's the Dr. Jeykll/Mr. Hyde aspect. If you're seeing signs with a woman or with children, be willing to hear what they're actually saying."
Frank says that knowing there are shelters available is also important.
"A lot of times what I find we need to be praying for is truth. What is the truth? Allow God to reveal it because He comes and meets us right where we're at. He's not afraid to enter into the mess."
As reaching out for help can be very difficult, especially in a dangerous situation, the province of Manitoba also has some initiatives in place.
“We’ve made resources available through a variety of channels, including a texting option, as we know some Manitobans in crisis may not have access to technology or a safe environment to make a phone call,” says Sport, Culture, and Heritage Minister Cathy Cox.
Manitobans can call the toll-free crisis line at 1-877-977-0007, text 204-792-5302 or 204-805-6682, or visit online. Crisis lines are confidential and available 24 hours a day. In an emergency, dial 911 or call the local police service.