Domestic abuse recovery is a process, new director says

Angie Marks is the incoming director of the Women’s Interval Home and Sexual Assault Survivors’ Centre. Glenn Ogilvie

Tara Jeffrey

A lot has changed since Angie Marks was hired on at the Women’s Interval Home in 2007 as a ‘counsellor on duty.’

“We’re seeing a lot more complex situations,” said Marks, noting Sarnia’s housing shortage has put pressure on the emergency shelter for women and children experiencing abuse.

“There’s a greater concern, the stays are much longer, and if we can’t find housing, it impacts their ability to move forward with their journey.

“And of course, when you’re staying in communal living for longer lengths of time, that has its own set of issues and concerns.”

On April 29, Marks, the home’s director of services the past five years, will become executive director of both the Interval Home and the Sexual Assault Survivors’ Centre Sarnia-Lambton — replacing longtime director Michelle Batty, who retires this month.

“I’m very passionate about the cause, and I am honoured to continue to move forward here,” said Marks, a Sarnia native and mom of three who married her high school sweetheart, Todd.

The Interval Home, which opened more than 40 years ago, provides free, confidential 24-hour emergency shelter services to women and children, a crisis line, transitional housing support, and support groups.

The Survivors’ Centre began in 1982 when 40 professionals from local agencies met to address a lack of victim services. Funded by the Ministry of attorney General and private donations, it provides a range of programs for survivors of sexual assault and sexual abuse.

“You have to have a good balance; we’ve always learned here that self-care is very important,” Marks said of working with victims of domestic violence.

“There’s forever changing strategies and resources out there that can help a woman through her journey… you have to stay engaged in what’s happening in the community and around the world.”

Marks said she’s looking forward to working with community partners and wants to focus on education and awareness.

“People talk about domestic violence as it’s happening, but I think there’s a real lack of understanding about the aftermath,” she said. “What victims have to go through in order to continue to move forward and heal — it’s a journey. Leaving a domestic violence situation is not a one-time event. It’s a process.”

She also wants to focus on prevention.

“I’m hoping we’ll be able to find opportunities to really engage with our youth, getting younger kids to understand what a healthy relationship is,” she said.
“I find sometimes we talk a lot about what the unhealthy relationships look like, and what abuse is, but how do we talk about power and control when we don’t talk about the equality within a relationship?”

“It’s important that we continue to work together to educate the community,” she added. “Because we know it impacts everyone.”