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‘My journey’s been tough’: Kitchener entrepreneur supporting survivors of domestic violence through thrifting

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It’s been more than four years since Amanda Kroetsch left her abusive relationship in British Columbia.

"My journey's been tough and I had to learn. My drivers licence was taken away and I went to driver's rehab,” said Kroetsch. “I had to learn how to do a lot of things again."

That’s when she moved to Kitchener, where she is now recovering from the abuse she endured. Kroetsch says she still struggles with complex PTSD and a brain injury.

"My injuries forced me to stop working to recover and figure out life again."

While on her own healing journey, Kroetsch is also lending a hand to others with her organization Domestic Violence Victims’ Alliance (DVVA).

"In my journey, I've chosen to be very public about what I’ve been through and I've done that on purpose."

In mid-March DVVA launched Retail Therapy – a thrift and consignment store that aids the organization’s ability to support domestic violence survivors.

"I knew that I wanted to have a store pretty quickly,” she said. “This is just the response from starting to thrift, to doing garage sales, to the market to now having 6,000 square feet of donated items from the community."

"So coming here, it just makes me feel every time I leave at the end of the day, I just feel like I’m somebody and I'm helping people and I love it," said volunteer and fellow survivor Selma Kelly.

Retail Therapy also partners with Shelter Movers, an organization that helps domestic survivors leave their abusive situation safely.

"We're actually picking up bedding, beds, kitchen appliances, kitchen utilities that the client needs and that has been donated by DVVA," said mover Guy Cameron.

Shelter Movers staff Justin Visser says he’s happy to be a part of something like this, especially since his goal is to become a police officer.

"I wanna be able to help out people who are in need of help, who feel that they may be alone. They may not have that kind of support,” he said. “I want to be able to offer types of support for them and let them know they are not alone."

There are over 30 municipalities across the province that have declared intimate partner violence an epidemic. Kroetsch wants to see that  happen in Waterloo region.

“We need way more funding and attention of the prevention side,” she said.

As for next steps, Kroetsch is calling on the community for more volunteers and is hoping to obtain a space with a larger parking lot and proper furniture loading dock to make it more accessible for shoppers.

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