Michelle Batty is set to retire in April after four decades of helping victims of violence.
The upcoming retirement of the executive director of both the Sexual Assault Survivor’s Centre of Sarnia-Lambton and the Women’s Interval Home was announced this week by the Sarnia-based organizations.
In the announcement, Georgette Parson, president of the board for the groups, said they extended their “heartfelt gratitude to an amazing woman who, in fact, did change the world we live in.”
Raised in Woodstock, Batty moved to the Sarnia area 40 years ago. She worked with the Children’s Aid Society for a decade, followed by a year at the former Sarnia General Hospital as a social worker in its psychiatric ward where she found herself helping women who had been sexual abused as children.
“That was the path to working to end violence against women,” Batty said.
In 1992, she stepped into the job of executive director of the Sexual Assault Survivor’s Centre.
“There I landed and stayed,” Batty said.
“Once you have that passion, it never ends.”
In 2014, Batty also became executive director of the Women’s Internal Home when the top jobs at the two local agencies was combined into one.
“I’m a super busy lady,” she said.
Batty said she realized early in her career that she was interested in working on prevention and being involved in making change.
“At the sexual assault centre, that’s our work – advocacy and making change,” she said.
“I think that’s the piece of the work that really helped me in making a difference.”
Over the years, Batty also served on several provincial advisory committee on issues of human trafficking and sexual assault programs, as well with the Coalition of Rape Crisis Centres and the Ontario Association of Interval and Transitional homes.
“It’s a broader issue,” she said.
“It’s not just local, it’s not just provincial, it’s global.”
Batty said the history of the movement to end violence against women and children is “you take a few steps forward and a few steps backwards.”
But, she said things are different now compared to when she began her career and no one talked about childhood sexual abuse.
“Survivor’s voices are now being heard,” she said.
“That is really important.”
There have also been improvement in government funding and legislation, Batty said.
“Some really good things have happened to assist survivors and victims of crime,” she said.
“I think we keep moving forward, but I’m still really concerned about the large numbers of sexual assaults, and domestic violence and murders of women and children that are happening the province.”
Batty said she had been thinking about retiring for a number of years, but there was always something new happening on the issue that kept her at her post.
“I’m just hooked on this business of helping, and working towards ending violence against women and children.”
Now that her retirement date is set, Batty said she’s looking forward to having more time to travel and spend time with her grandchildren.