May 29, 2024

Amanda Kroetsch, a 44-year-old woman, was always a successful entrepreneur owning different businesses. Years ago, she became a victim of intimate partner violence which caused severe injuries and PTSD. Amid the situation, financial abuse came along as well. All the money saved was spent on legal or medical fees and Kroetsch said she filed bankruptcy.

Overall, 44 per cent of women in Canada who have been in an intimate partner relationship, or about 6.2 million women aged 15 and over, reported experiencing psychological, physical, or sexual abuse in the context of an intimate relationship in their lifetime, according to Statistics Canada.

Kroetsch was always fond of thrifting, but she went from wanting, to needing, to thrift. This experience became an inspiration for her to open a store for the community to raise funds and it is also a way for her to get back on her feet as a survivor.

“I still sometimes don’t feel comfortable having the business on my own: on days like these, the motivation comes from within thinking about the people who can’t speak up for themselves and I am responsible to make them feel seen,” said Kroetsch.

The motivation came from the trauma Kroetsch experienced. She said doctors told her at one point that she might not fully recovery from her injuries.

In March 2022, when Retail Therapy started, the aim for the store was to build a trauma-informed environment where everybody felt comfortable. Shoppers can pay what they want and what they can afford. Their priority is raising funds so the money that comes in goes to support domestic violence survivors with mental health, medical and legal fees. Financial abuse is a common element of domestic violence, survivors say.

“I am a regular customer at this store and my favourite part is the variety they have for the cheap prices comparative to other mainstream thrift stores,” said Melissa Haul, a customer at Retail Therapy.

In addition to being an entrepreneur, Kroetsch is an advocate. “Everybody in society looks down on survivors …I want to break the stigma around being a survivor.”

The store is running on the funds raised by the community so the biggest challenge they face is not being able to pay their expenses. They haven’t been granted charitable status, hindering their fundraising abilities, Kroetsch said.

“I look up to … being an example of turning my life from being dependant to fighting my battles on my own,” said Kroetsch.

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