The Stopping the Violence (STV) program at the Battered Women’s Support Services (BWSS) of Vancouver has been the most important education and support program I have accessed in my journey toward recovery from a childhood and 30 years of marriage laden with violence, abuse and trauma. With their support, I have with confidence, been able to leave my marriage and the mental health system, both of which kept me disabled. I am now beginning an educational program of my choice, in pursuit of a meaningful career.
The STV program began helping me by being non-judgmental or leading when I made my first contact by phone. A friend and a relative had both suggested I might be a victim of abuse in my marriage, and because of the nature of my history of tolerating abuse, since early childhood, I could not recognize the problem. My first contact was an intake worker, who patiently and quietly listened as I struggled to decide if I was being subjected to abuse, and I was allowed to make my own decisions, and welcomed to come in to a free drop-in program.
At the drop-in program, I was astounded at how diverse a group of women we were, and how we still had entirely common experiences of violence, rejection, invalidation, and deprivation. I no longer needed to worry about the definition of abuse, I was now free to address the details of what I was experiencing and learn the patterns, and create new ways of handling these long-familiar entanglements and traps. The support and education groups covered many topics about relationship that I had little understanding of before, and thus helped me have insight that helps me prevent myself from potentially unsafe relationships in the present.
I found both the group work and individual counseling an indispensable adjunct, the STV program specifically addressed the abuse and violence component of my recovery, through group sharing and educational materials, in a practical problem-solving way, and the counselor at BWSS has helped me navigate my entry back into independence by helping me have insight and recognize the successes I have in using the tools I have acquired. In addition, I had the invaluable support and advice from the staff legal advocate, which helped me navigate the complexities of the legal system, which is something I could not do alone. With their help, I can now stand up and be heard in personal relationships, and also navigate my way to proper legal help when necessary.
For more information about Stopping the Violence Counselling email [email protected] or call 604-687-1867 (collect calls are accepted)