“I felt like I was a bird in a cage at that time. Now I feel like I am a free bird now.”
It has been about 4 years since Gagan left her husband in the middle of the night. Looking back, she remembers how he threatened to kill her and their daughter. “He wanted a baby boy”, she said. “He beat me because I gave birth to a baby girl instead of a baby boy.” When Gagan reached out to her family for help, her mom told her to stay with her husband because he supports the family.
When Gagan decided to break her silence, she called Surrey Women’s Centre for help. This phone call changed her life. A crisis worker explained her options step-by-step. Gagan learned that she could get a crisis grant, find a safe place to live, go to school, and get a job – live a life free from violence. When Gagan hung up the phone, she knew her options. She planned the details of her escape over the next two years.
When Gagan’s husband tried to kill her, she left. She took her daughter and ran to a hotel and then called the police for help. The police contacted Surrey Women’s Centre and within minutes, a crisis worker called Gagan to reassure her that she was not alone. By the next day, Surrey Women’s Centre re-located Gagan and her daughter to a local transition house. “Surrey Women’s Centre is like the family I never had. My own family told me to stay. But Surrey Women’s Centre helped me find food, clothing, and shelter so I could leave They are like my sisters.”
This was just the beginning of her fight for justice, freedom, and equality.
Gagan is now one of Surrey Women’s Centre’s biggest advocates. Determined to make a difference, she wants to use the power of her own voice to help women, like her, know they have options. “I didn’t know I had options”, she said, “until I made that first call to Surrey Women’s Centre.” Gagan has already met with Member of Parliament, John Aldag, to highlight the critical role that women’s centres play to keep women and children safe. Now Gagan’s dream is to share her story with Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, to ensure that crisis centres, like Surrey Women’s Centre, have more funding to support women and children escaping domestic violence.
Gagan is one of this year’s Faces of Courage.