This blog series highlights the work being done by #NotinMyCity Ally Jacquie Meyer at the HER Victory program in Calgary, AB, which is part of the Victory Outreach Church.
HER Victory provides essential needs and full support services to exploited or abused women and girls. #NotinMyCity has been supporting Victory Outreach and HER Victory with a hands-on, practical approach throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. This is part two of a two-part series profiling Jacquie, HER Victory and their work in a Q&A format.
#NotinMyCity will be applying additional practical support to other organizations in the community as we navigate these unsettling times together. Stay tuned for more details. If you would like to contribute to our work, click here.
#NotinMyCity: Exploitation affects a girl or woman’s physical, mental and emotional wellbeing. How do you stay motivated to address this challenging issue?
JM: “My heart has just always been drawn to help the marginalized or individuals who could not stand up for themselves. I have a passion and empathy for these women and supporting them in their journey to restoration. I do not see the outer exterior, God really has opened my eyes to the hurting soul inside. My background is business, so I knew I was going into this “green” and inexperienced, so I immediately surrounded myself with mentors within the sexual exploitation industry who have worked on the front line and relied on God’s direction to move forward. The result has been amazing.
This kind of work does take a toll mentally and emotionally, which is why I started to journal the many life stories from the women I support. I’ve heard things I thought I would never hear, and I’ve learned things that I thought I’d never learn. I am also conducting group and one-on-one visits within Calgary prisons. This has been helpful in connecting with women once they are released. I am also getting calls from the city hospitals and requests to assist and represent in court settings.”
#NotinMyCity: Does fear come into play?
JM: “People often ask me, “Do you feel safe?” I can only attest that my faith has helped lift the heavy burdens of what I hear so I do not hold or carry it. God has enabled me to have peace with this ministry and hold strong boundaries with what I deal with on a daily basis. I deal with not only these girls and women, but the outer toxic environments of their world. I use discernment, good judgement and wisdom before putting myself into any situation. Logically, I should be fearful, but I fear not.
I can only attest to God’s anointing of compassion and empathy that enables me with all the strength and sound mind to continue.
#NotinMyCity: In 2019, Victory Outreach (under which HER Victory operates) helped just under 100 women in domestic violence situations. Is this number expected to change in the coming years and what are potential catalysts for this?
JM: “I think we’re only going to see an increase in this area in the future, we always see a spike in domestic abuse around significant sporting or worldly events. For example, with COVID-19 and quarantining, we know that domestic abuse numbers are on the rise. The same happens when the economy crashes, or there’s a large sporting event. But here’s the unfortunate thing: when people think of a statistic rising, they think of a curve that goes up and down and eventually starts to level out. But domestic violence never drops, the curve continues to climb. ”
#NotinMyCity: How do you work with other partners?
JM: “I work with other agencies, some are faith-based and others non-faith-based, to assist these women who ultimately want to leave their situation and start a new life. This includes sobriety, safety plans, housing, peer support, mentorship, program classes geared towards healing and restoration. For example, when a girl is ready to exit, every situation is unique in circumstance, so I want to set her up in the most appropriate setting and give her options. I want to ensure it is the best plan for success. It can take a village for just one woman.”
#NotinMyCity: How can people support Victory Outreach, HER Victory and your essential work?
JM: “We always welcome monetary donations to support our work. We also accept practical donations like hygiene kits, clothing, bus passes and purses. Volunteers come to the Outreach to help serve meals, assist in the clothing room, deliver food, cook or provide administrative help during the week. If you want to help, we will find a place for you.”
#NotinMyCity: What’s your next goal with this program?
JM: “One of my goals is to be able to fundraise for a recovery house for these girls to safely detox and start the process of transitioning from streets to total recovery. Many agencies will not take girls in unless they’ve been sober for at least 48 hours. Initially, when you don’t have somewhere safe for them to go, it is a huge hurdle moving to the next step of transitional safe housing and program support. I’d love to be able to provide a housing facility for these women that are serious about leaving the lifestyle.
We’re going to continue to partner with other agencies to help others and the clients of HER Victory as much as we can. Since we’re at the ground level working with these women, partnering with organizations like #NotinMyCity gives us that much more to work with.”