Violence against women is a pervasive societal problem that affects women from all socio-economic backgrounds. However, violence against women is not limited to intimate partner violence, although twenty percent of all women will face some type of abuse from an intimate partner in their lifetime. Racialized women, Indigenous women, Trans, women with disabilities all disproportionately face violence not only from their partners but from communities and institutions they depend on. Shelter Movers was born out of a desire to help the community by providing a non-judgemental, compassionate service to those who need it.
Odds are, you know someone who has been affected by domestic abuse. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed in the face of such a daunting societal problem, but there are ways to help.
Survivors of domestic abuse can face many challenges when deciding to leave their abuser. Their financial position, mobility, and safety may all be at risk when relocating from their current residence into a safer home. At Shelter Movers, we relieve some of the uncertainty by providing moving and storage services at no cost to help women get to their new start. Throughout that process, we remind them of their intrinsic worth and the power they have in their decision to leave an abusive relationship
Marc, our Founder and Executive Director, partnered with a small group of volunteers in 2015 and got to work building a trauma-informed, safe and efficient process to support women leaving abusive situations by helping them get and keep their belongings.
Since founding in 2016, we have helped more than 450 survivors stay connected with their belongings. We’ve created a team of diverse volunteers spanning ages, professions and backgrounds because everyone has a part to play in ending violence against women. Thanks to 250 of these volunteers and an abundance of business partners, we expanded to Ottawa in 2017 and are looking forward to serving Vancouver starting this fall. Across the country, 3,000 women and 2,900 of their dependents are living in shelters to escape domestic abuse. Our role in that process is to ensure women retain access to their possessions that otherwise may have been left behind.
How we do it
There are many factors to consider when a survivor finds the courage to leave their abuser. Shelter Movers does its part by relieving survivors of the stressful and financial burden of tediously relocating. Our trauma-informed team of drivers, movers, security, and translators work to make this transition easier by providing moving vehicles, storage facilities, and the hands to help.
We help anyone dealing with abuse, but our services are most needed from women and children, who are often referred to us through our partners in the Violence Against Women sector. We relocate a survivors’ belongings at various stages of the resettlement. We may be moving a woman from her previous residence to a shelter or from a shelter to her new home. The belongings could be with her, in a private storage unit, or held at our donated storage facilities. Whatever the situation, our experienced move coordinators ensure everything runs smoothly on moving day.
Besides being physically on the ground, literally doing the heavy lifting, Shelter Movers is a means of advocacy and support for survivors. With this blog, we hope to share the stories of the strong women who chose to step away from horrific situations, the experiences of the volunteers who helped them do so and to have an open conversation about the complexities of this issue and how we can work as a community to make a difference
Check in on our Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to stay connected and informed with our initiatives and don’t hesitate to reach out if you’re looking to help. Domestic violence is a prevalent issue in our communities. Through education and helping hands, we have a vision of a country where leaving abuse is easy, safe and barrier-free. At our core, we aim to remind survivors of their intrinsic worth and the power they are reclaiming in their decision to leave an abusive relationship.
Interested in volunteering with Shelter Movers? Please visit this page.
If you aren’t able to offer support on the ground, please consider donating to Shelter Movers. A $200 contribution would cover the costs of a move and help up relocate a family to a safe environment.