Gorete Tavares has made it her life’s goal to help women who are affected by domestic violence, because she herself knows all too well the horrors of an abusive relationship.
Tavares is sharing her story and spreading the word about her new business, Butterfly Project, in an effort to help raise awareness of the fact November is Family Violence Awareness Month.
A survivor of cancer, and domestic violence, her abusive marriage eventually drove her and her three children to seek safety at a women’s shelter for several weeks.
Now, Tavares is getting back on her feet and is dedicating her life to helping others who are struggling with domestic violence.
After leaving her abusive relationship, Tavares began to do domestic violence advocacy work and became a certified counsellor.
She has opened a private counselling business, Butterfly Project, and is also in the process of developing workshops to educate people about domestic violence.
"Because of everything I’ve been through it became my passion to talk about my story," Tavares said, noting Nova House, the Selkirk shelter she stayed in when she fled her relationship, often asks her to do advocacy work for them.
Butterfly Project, which has an office in Panache Modeling Agency on Corydon, officially opened its doors in March.
Butterfly’s aim is to educate women who are affected by violence, and offer them guidance.
"I found going through (domestic violence), is that it’s a very complex issue and if you don’t have the proper knowledge and education, you have the completely wrong idea of it," Tavares said.
The East Kildonan resident said if she’d been educated about domestic violence earlier, she might not have stayed in her relationship for as long as she did.
"People need to know why domestic violence happens. I think if people know, they can recognize it before they get into a bad place," Tavares said.
"I needed to tell young people, young women about what domestic violence is. It became my life’s purpose to try to save women from the horror I had to go through, and to save children from having to go through this whole process. That’s why I do what I do."
Anna Pazdzierski, director of Nova House, said the shelter is proud of the work Tavares had done to educate people, and help others who are struggling with domestic violence.
"It’s so important to be able to have women we work with who are able and willing to speak about their experiences. The public awareness that it brings is just amazing," Pazdzierski said
"Hopefully people who hear (Tavares’) story will feel there’s hope for them as well, and that change is possible."
For more information on Butterfly Project visit butterflyproject.vpweb.ca, or call 204 417 3496.