Julietta’s Place is a program for women and children fleeing domestic violence in central Alberta. It is named after Julietta Sorensen, a Red Deer resident who was well-known for opening her home to strangers seeking shelter during wartime. Sorenson passed away in 2004 at 96-years-old.
Today, Julietta’s Place stands as a refuge where some of the most broken women and children come to heal. Team Leader at Julietta’s Place says their residents often arrive with only the clothing they are wearing.
“Julietta’s Place is for women and children who are at risk of homicide fleeing domestic violence. It's for women who are broken women, who are at risk, women who probably have experienced the most volatile abuse that are wanting to start over and want something better for their children,” explained Cave.
The apartment complex is at an undisclosed location to offer increased security to its residents. It is a dry facility that does not allow men inside. Julietta’s Place is considered ‘affordable housing’ so those attending the program will pay for rent and a security deposit as well as other costs associated with living. However, an apartment comes stocked with furniture and other items to help them get a fresh start.
The programming is aimed at getting women and children feeling safe and settled before diving into the very challenging work of healing. When they first arrive, the women are generally given 30 days to get settled before they become more involved with the healing part of their program.
“It's important for their journey that they need to be clean and sober. We are also an independent living facility. So, what that means is they should be able to do basic needs: cook, clean, and be able to maintain their apartment when they move in...We usually come in 2-3 times a week in the beginning. It's usually an hour of their time, so we also work on things like budgeting with them, connecting them to the community so that they can get the supports they need,” explained Cave.
Women are permitted to stay at Julietta’s Place for 18 months but depending on how they are doing in their programming their stay may be extended. The journey to healing for each woman is often a little bit different.
“I had a young lady here she came from another town. It wasn't for her and we worked with her. She actually found a job, found her place to live, and we are now working with her out in the community. So, we are providing her still with that programming piece of it in the community in order for her to be successful,” said Cave.
The women and children in the program go through therapy with one of the Outreach Centre’s therapists and are connected with all the help they might need. They work with a case manager who helps to determine what kind of care they might need whether that is around budgeting, crisis planning, safety planning, or more. Julietta’s Place doesn’t offer child care but it does offer respite care to ensure a women’s self-care needs are met.
“Women do return back to the abuser multiple times. We also understand you're going to miss him. You're going to want to protect him. You're scared. A lot of women who come here are professionals. They have degrees and diplomas but they've been in such an abusive relationship that they've lost everything, including who they are...You're building relationships with people, you have to be real with yourself, and you have to be vulnerable. That's not always fun,” explained Cave.
Despite the challenges, Cave is very passionate about working with the women undertaking these massive life changes. The Team Leader says she has had the privilege of seeing some children grow up in the program. When a woman outgrows the program, Cave says the changes are remarkable.
“You can see how proud these ladies are. You can see the awareness. You see a woman who is growing and who is stronger than she thought she'd ever be, and who believes that she's worth something,” said Cave.
For more information on Julietta's Place, click here. You can support the Outreach Centre, and programs like Julietta’s Place by donating to our Holiday Hope Radiothon. For more information, click here.