Substance Use and Violence

medication bottles

Another post from ‘The Women’s Addiction Foundation’ hand-outs. This one deals with the combination of substance use and domestic/family violence. The substances could be taken by either partner, or both. Either way the use of drugs is detrimental to a healthy partnership. 

‘Violence against women in relationships refers to any private or public act done by a woman’s partner that causes her physical, sexual, or psychological harm or suffering. Both substance misuse and violence in relationships are complex problems and in combination they become even more complicated and dangerous for women.

-The connections between substance misuse and violence against women; The combination is common in our society, in all communities, and in all social classes. Both problems often run for generations in a family, creating patterns of secrecy and denial, and isolating family members from one another. Over time, the combination can lead to situations that can be life-threatening for women.

-Social Attitudes: The National Violence Against Women Survey (1993) found that men’s drinking is a major factor in wife abuse. This does not mean that drinking causes male violence, but it is often used as an excuse for male violence. Society still promotes the attitude that drinking/drugging and violence are normal male responses to frustration. As a result, many violent men excuse their abusive behaviour, and many women are encouraged to believe “I deserved it” or “he wasn’t himself because he was drinking/using.”

Masking the problem: Women who were abused as children may use substances to deaden painful memories. Women who are currently being abused may use drugs or alcohol to cope with or accommodate an abusive partner. This, in turn can increase their vulnerability to violence. Sometimes doctors can also play a negative role in masking abuse by prescribing addictive drugs to women who have experienced, or are experiencing violence. Drugging a woman ignores the real problem: the abuser’s violent behaviour.

What are the barriers to getting help?

Fear and danger: A woman who is abused in her intimate relationship is often controlled by fear, threats, and violence. She may find it extremely difficult to even think about making a move to get safe and free, let alone stopping or reducing her substance use. The dangers are real. Women often will not seek treatment because they fear their partner’s violent reaction against them, their children or pets.

Depression: Abused women are also at a risk for depression, anxiety, and self-harming behaviours. This can make it very difficult for them to reach out and seek help.

Memories of childhood trauma: Sometimes when a woman takes steps to deal with an abusive living situation or to address her substance use, memories of earlier abuse surface. These memories may make her turn to drugs or alcohol again. For this reason some treatment programs discourage women from working on childhood abuse issues, but women also relapse when they do not deal with early abuse. Each woman is unique and must determine for herself when and how to deal with both issues.

What Works?

-Programs that recognize women’s need to heal from substance misuse and experiences of abuse in a safe, supportive environment: Drug and alcohol treatment programs can provide women with a safe space to explore needs for growth and change, and build skills and confidence to protect themselves.

-Transition Houses that provide a safe space for women with substance abuse issues: Specialized transition houses that actively work with women on both violence and substance use issues from a harm reduction framework are essential. And it is important for all transition houses to find ways to commit to working with women on substance use issues in a routine and supportive way.

-Working together: Service providers are coming to recognize the links between substance misuse and violence. They are beginning to to share their expertise and work together to ensure safety for women and their children, while supporting women’s  recovery from or change in their substance use. They are also exploring links with service providers working with women on mental health and HIV issues. It is a worthwhile goal to develop services that are holistic and welcoming to women with a variety of issues.’






Women and Problem Gambling Pt.2

woman gambling     


‘Barriers to getting help:

-Not recognizing the problem: A woman may not believe that she is a problem gambler. She may rationalize that her gambling is merely entertainment or time for herself-a common explanations among problem bingo players. She will use any win to validate these beliefs.

-Feelings of guilt or fear:A woman may be unable to tell people what she has done because she feels too guilty and ashamed about her losses, lies and the means she used to get the money. She may fear retribution from an abusive partner.

-Lack of understanding on the part of those in a position to help: Women’s gambling is often not visible. When it is noticed, relatives and social service providers may view gambling as a sign of weakness, or a relatively minor problem, rather than a health and social problem with significant life consequences. Family members may find it hard to be supportive if they have experienced dishonesty with a woman who is a problem gambler, or if they have loaned money that has been lost.

-Lack of understanding about women’s experience of health and social problems: Women’s problems with gambling are often denied or minimized. Misconceptions such as ‘bingo is not really gambling’ or ‘women cannot really be problem gamblers’ still exist. These misconceptions are less prevalent in women-only support groups and treatment settings, yet few of these exist for women problem gamblers.


What Works?

Today’s research and programming does take better account of women’s needs. As a result women can and do make changes that address their problem gambling every day. Counselling with service provider who are knowledgeable about women’s problem gambling can be very helpful. Effective counselling

  • Provides a non-judgmental space to explore one’s concerns about gambling.
  • Offers information about the impact of gambling and strategies for changing it.
  • Supports a woman’s motivation to change and helps her identify the people, places and things that can support her in making changes.
  • Offers a safe place to talk about difficult emotions and new ways of coping.
  • Provides referrals to supports such as debt counselors. 

Support groups, including self-help groups, are often available on a drop-in basis. These groups are most effective when used along with counseling. They can provide a sense of connection as well as feedback, encouragement and support from peers in a non-judgmental atmosphere. 

Residential treatment programs can also be helpful to women with an overpowering compulsion to gamble. They can provide a controlled environment, a break from daily life, and intensive therapeutic support that builds understanding about problem gambling, as well as strategies for personal change.’ 

empty purse  This information taken from the handout provided by ‘The Women’s Addiction Foundation”. They are no longer practicing but their information is still very relevant. If you have a gambling addiction please talk to someone before it takes over your life.

Hit ’em high!

115px-Portable_violet   I checked on the number of hits the website has received so far and I’m proud to say we’re up over 13, 005. That may not seem like a lot to some web-masters, but to me that’s a real boost. This means a lot, as Sally Field once said “you like me, you really like me”. Of course I know the site isn’t connected to my personality, it’s a work creation only, but after all the research on subjects, typing in endless resource numbers, adding community links to the pages to make things easier, it’s reassuring to know there’s an audience out there using it. 

A big thank you to Nora LeClaire as well, she’s the one who keeps an eye on the site for our agency, it’s great to have that kind of experience backing us up. Anyway, a short post for now, I believe I have Part 2 of last week’s post on ‘Women and Problem Gambling’ to add later on today. Enjoy your Labour Day and don’t forget all those who fought and won our rights to safe work places and decent wages.


Wanna Bet?

woman gambling  As with the last blog post, this one was taken from a handout through ‘The Women’s Addiction Foundation’. It’s title is ‘Women and Problem Gambling, it’s not about domestic abuse, but there is an element to addictions that are related to family violence or a result of them. 

‘The number of women who gamble has increased rapidly in the past decade. Women often gamble to meet social needs, and it can be affordable, safe and fun. However, when women are drawn to gambling as a way to avoid loneliness, painful emotions and difficult life situations they are vulnerable to developing gambling problems.  Women are vulnerable to becoming problem gamblers when they are trying to:

  • minimize loneliness
  • escape emotionally from past or current traumas
  • escape physically from chronic pain, addiction, or other health problems 
  • get out of poverty by winning money
  • avoid conflict or abuse at home
  • relieve stress

Gambling can cause women to lose money that their families need for food, shelter and basic necessities. When a woman’s gambling causes such problems, she can feel intense shame and guilt. As many as 1 in 5 women who have a gambling problem seriously consider suicide. 

Connections between gambling and substance misuse: women who are problem gamblers are 2 to 3 times more likely to also have problems with substance abuse. Sometimes women substitute one strategy for another, replacing gambling with drinking or drugging for awhile, and vice versa. Women’s problems gambling has similarities to problem substance use:

  • A problem gambler can have the illusion that she is ‘”in control”
  • A problem gambler chases after the initial high or feeling of escape associated with a win
  • A problem gamblers’ tolerance increases over time. She needs to gamble for longer periods of time, and wager larger sums of money.

Gambling can pose a risk for women recovering from substance dependence. Mistakenly, gambling is often presented as a safe way for a recovering woman to have fun in an alcohol and drug free environment. If she is struggling with boredom-a common feeling during early recovery-gambling can provide excitement. If she is struggling with past traumas, gambling can offer escape from overwhelming feelings. If she is dealing with financial difficulties or poverty, the temptation of easy money can be very strong.

Watch this space next week for the continuation of ‘Women and Problem Gambling’.

Barriers to getting help

alcohol-pic    Part 2 of ‘Alcohol and Older Women’ post, taken from the hand-out ‘Alcohol and Older Women’ through the Women’s Addiction Foundation.

In the first installment of this post from Saturday, August 25th, we looked at the facts and dangers to women over 65 who use alcohol. In this segment we’ll look at the next stage, ‘getting help’. Some of the barriers;

  1. Not recognizing the problem; many older women do not even know they have a drinking problem. They may show signs and symptoms but their family members, friends, doctors and other health care professionals often see these as signs of ageing, not alcohol use.
  2. Admitting the problem and feeling hope that you can change: Like all people who have an alcohol problem, it may be hard to admit you have a problem. Many of us have learned that ‘only certain kinds of people’ have problems with drinking, and that having a problem is shameful. But the truth is, people from all walks of life use alcohol to deal with issues in their lives, so you are not alone. It’s important to know that even older women who have had a problem for a long time have been successful at making positive changes in their use. And older women do as well as, or even better than younger people in treatment. 
  3. Depression: you may experience depression and this can make it very hard to reach out for help.
  4. Fewer treatment options for seniors: Alcohol treatment programs are often not suited to the needs of older women. For example, they can have schedules that don’t allow much flexibility for clients who need a different pace. Also, and older woman may find that she is the only one of her age in the group. She may feel that she can’t connect with some of the issues of younger women.


So what works?

  • Dealing with depression: older women who have drinking problems often feel depressed because of their health, financial situation, life changes, or the death of their spouse, partner, or close friends. In some cases, counselling for support groups that help deal with the cause of the depression can be helpful. In other cases, medications for depression can help.
  • Dealing with social isolation; older women who have drinking problems often feel isolated. Many women have found that reconnecting with family and friends, and going on social outings have been an important part of their recovery.

Programs that suit older women: older women have found that they are more successful with cutting down or stopping drinking if they attend programs that respect their needs and offer the following; 

-support for transportation or they are held in accessible seniors facilities

-counselors that understand and are trained to work with ageing issues.

-a pace that matches your energy level

-a focus on all the challenges that are important in your life, not just on drinking.

-a connection to other resources (for example, pain management)

  • Not going it alone; It is important to get the support you need if you choose to change your drinking. It can be dangerous for older women to stop drinking ‘cold turkey’. So finding a supportive doctor, nurse or other health care professional can be important. They can help you withdraw safely from alcohol and/or connect you with withdrawal management services in your area. 





In a few weeks I’m going on vacation to visit relatives in the UK. of course I’m looking forward to it, and yes even though I’m in my 50’s I still feel like a kid waiting for Christmas, the hardest part is being patient. The second hardest part is reminding myself that life is to be lived in the meantime. To spend time with family, friends and my partner, to do my share of the household chores, to work my shifts with the same energy and enthusiasm I’ll have when I get back. 

Patience is a strength of character. It may have been covered in this blog before but watching the news and some people, it occurred to me that it bears repeating. Waiting our turn is often difficult, whether it be in traffic, at the grocery store or at work. Some humans take extra time to do things, if you’re behind an elderly person going 30 in a 60 zone how is honking the horn and tailgating them going to help matters? Ease back, it won’t be long before your body slows down and starts to test others’ patience. Rushing and wishing time away is almost an insult to those loved ones who don’t have much time left. Think of someone you’ve lost recently and honour them by appreciating the view and experiences that you’re still alive to enjoy. 

Here’s your homework for the next week, if you choose to accept the challenge. The next time you feel yourself getting upset when someone is taking too long; take some deep breaths, see if there’s a way that you could help, smile at them, count to 10 in your mind, look out a window and enjoy the view (even if it’s a parking lot outside of the grocery store). You might find that if you pay more attention to what’s happening around you instead of what’s going on in your own life, it will open your eyes to other people’s struggles. A bit of a change in closing this time, Take care of others.

Are you too old to drink too much?

alcohol-pic   This blog post comes to you courtesy of a hand out I found here at the house. It’s one of a series put out by the Women’s Addiction Foundation. They are no longer in operation under that name but I chose to attribute credit. 


‘More than half of women over 65 drink alcohol, at least occasionally, and many are affected by the drinking of someone they love. Most older women drink moderately and for pleasure. But others can begin to drink more than is healthy, and to rely on alcohol to cope with major changes, such as physical or emotional pain, coping with caring for a spouse who is also ageing or ill, death of a spouse, and poverty.’

About 1 in 12 older women has a serious problem with alcohol. Many have had this problem for a long time. But for many others, the problem is new. Drinking too much can affect women of all ages, but there are specific things that older women should watch out for. 

  • Nutrition; drinking can often make you feel much less like eating. Alcohol also blocks your body’s ability to absorb and use vitamins. This can lead to poor nutrition, which can put your body under stress.


  • Accidents: You can be more susceptible to falls and fractures. This isn’t because you’re falling down drunk, but because alcohol can weaken muscles and damage nerves. As is true for anyone, drinking can also affect your driving. Studies have shown that drinking-related accidents that cause injury and death are a significant problem for seniors.


  • Memory problems: Drinking too much can make it difficult to remember things that happened recently. This loss is not due to ageing. 


  • Depression: Some older women drink to cope with loneliness, depression and anxiety. But depression can actually arise from one’s alcohol use instead of alleviating it.


  • Drinking while on medication: Over 150 common drugs and medications can adversely interact with alcohol; antibiotics, aspirin, pain killers and sedatives such as Valium. The list also includes common medications for blood pressure, heart problems, diabetes and stomach conditions. Many over-the-counter drugs and herbal remedies can also cause problems if you drink while taking them.


  • Body chemistry changes; As you grow older your body goes through major changes in metabolism. You produce less of the chemical that breaks down alcohol and your liver and kidneys work more slowly. As a result, alcohol remains in your body much longer, causing damage.


  • Stomach problems: You can get stomach problems from drinking, including indigestion, gastritis, and ulcers. Alcohol also significantly increases your chances of developing mouth or stomach cancer.


  • Abuse; Alcohol use can also be connected to abuse of seniors. Sometimes when ‘friends’ or family drink they can become violent or emotionally abusive. They may even become financially abusive and take money away from you. When older women are under the influence of alcohol, clear decision making is more difficult, making them more vulnerable to remaining in abusive situations. Older women may also overuse alcohol to cope with the shame or guilt they feel about abuse done to them.

Part 2 ‘Barriers to getting help’  will follow in the next couple of days. 



A Little Black bag.

garbage bag              At certain times of the year people do a spring clean. It doesn’t have to be the actual season (Spring) for it, it just occurs when piles of things get in the way. It would be handy if we could do that with things on our mind. Just delete them, junk them or hand them over to someone else. I suppose that’s what counseling is; handing someone your concerns and asking them to deal with it for you. 

Moving on from an abusive relationship and receiving advice in the process is akin to cleaning house. It’s OK to do it alone, but having someone to support you in a major decision is often wise. Have you ever been going through stuff that you had intended to give away and find yourself hanging on to it ‘just in case’ or ‘what if I need this later?’ A counselor can ask you the question ‘in case of what?’ He/She will make you really look at what’s going on in the relationship and help you make the break and let go of the ‘what if’s’. It’s a fear of the unknown in most cases. How will you feel once that separation has happened? Will being without be harder than hanging on to something that doesn’t fit you anymore? If you need support with relationship or family abuse, call Cyndi at 604-485-6965 

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Something non-abusive to say?

microphone   When’s the last time you listened to someone and realized that what they were saying was verbally abusive. I believe many of us hear it from someone at least once a week; all you have to do is watch the news. I’m not referring to politicians or reality ‘stars’ though. I’m talking about people around you, maybe even family members. How do you handle it?

A coworker and I were talking about that this morning. When you meet someone or know someone who feels it’s their right to speak to you in a derogatory way. Are we meant to just sit and take it because they’re family? What if you’re literally paid to ‘listen to people’ and you receive an earful of abuse, how far does that go before the lioness in you rears up? It’s a difficult situation for many of us.

If you’re in an abusive situation and you hear someone you thought loved and respected you, undermining you daily for no logical reason, how far can they push you? As women many of us were raised to be polite and ‘lady-like’. Developing and then holding on to our personal boundaries takes practice. It’s much easier to hang up on a pushy phone solicitation than it is to tell your spouse that you don’t like the way they’re talking to you. There’s no danger on the phone, in the same house though things could escalate from verbal to physical abuse. How do we develop that line in the sand? How do you teach your kids that they don’t have to listen to abuse from anyone, even family? It’s a process but starting as early as you can with your children will help them understand what’s appropriate advice and what’s just someone’s unsolicited opinion. Look below for some resources on this subject.

The Verbally Abusive Relationship-Patricia Evans

The Verbal and Emotional Abuser:Recognizing the verbally abusive relationship and how to defend yourself-Michele Gilbert

The Nice Girl Syndrome-Stop being manipulated and abused-And start standing up for yourself-Beverly Engel


Say Aah


“Co-dependence…..taking someone else’s temperature to see how you feel” 

   Quote by Linda Ellerbee  (American Journalist)

Co-dependence was once defined by Earnie Larsen as “those self-defeating learned behaviors or character defects that result in a diminished capacity to initiate or to participate in long relationships.” It’s often a term associated with people living with addicts or alcoholics. It’s also most often women; as natural caregivers we often put others’ needs before our own, and someone who is living an addicted life is usually in great need. It can be a hard battle, and even when the support person/wife/co-dependent partner wants to leave they feel immense guilt for what they perceive as abandonment. 

 Anger is another powerful reaction, along with guilt, to living with an addicted person. Whether it’s alcohol or drugs, food or gambling. We often feel like the person should be able to control themselves, after all, we can. We don’t understand why they aren’t as strong willed, we believe that if they loved us they would listen to our pleas and just stop their destructive behavior. Understanding that none of their decisions have to do with us is difficult, but essential. They’ll try to make us believe that they drink or use or eat because of something we said or did. That’s simply wrong. “Sometimes people behave in certain ways to provoke us to react in certain ways. If we stop reacting in these certain ways we take all the fun out of it for them. We remove ourselves from their control and take away their power over us.” Melody Beattie ‘Codependent No More

If you’re living with someone who’s addicted I would advise you to give this book a read.

Recognize any of these?

stress graph        There’s been a lot going on in the world lately and it would be surprising if people everywhere aren’t a bit stressed out by it. Each person also has their own little pocket of anxiety as well as dealing with the global issues. Everyone handles stress differently and few people will have all the symptoms, I posted this chart though so you can see that maybe the symptoms you’re experiencing are stress-related and not some other physical ailment. 

Stress is a strange phenomenon as some people dispel it as not a big deal, and others tell you that ‘Stress Kills’. If you’re already worried about things neither of these approaches are going to help. 

Some of the emotions do ring a bell with me and it made me wonder how long I’ve been just coping with stress and not actually dealing with the cause. Do you have any stress relief tools that you turn to? I like to read and write (more than just this blog by the way). I also like to put on my iPod and walk without thinking, these are safe options and when participated in actually work. Why don’t you think about your stress-relief tools and tell me what you come up with? There’s always room for other options. 


Just Nasty

Nasty People book We have this book at work and I can tell you honestly it’s a good read. No, I haven’t changed the blog to a book report, but when I picked it up it was like he was talking to me. I’m not the nasty one in this situation by the way, I’m the one who’s hurt by them. 

With all the discussions we have in society about assertiveness and boundaries, it’s amazing that so many of us ‘kind-hearted’ people still put up with this little group of tyrants. It would be so easy to sink to their level, (after all in my mind, I’m all the way down there!) Staying strong in your words and decisions is important. Staying calm in the face of verbal and emotional abuse is difficult but like any predator they can sense weakness. What we may consider polite, they see vulnerability. It’s crucial not to let them see you’ve been stung.

It would be so passive-aggressive to just leave the book laying around where the person could see what you’re reading, but if they’re that ‘Nasty’ it wouldn’t penetrate. Jay Carter has a list of reasons that people may be mean (page 94);

1) They didn’t get nurturing

2) They want to get their way

3) Someone was nasty to them

4) They don’t feel good about themselves

5) They have a chemical imbalance. 

Now to my mind and probably in the heart of the average person, numbers 1 and 5 would be sad and we could see how patience with them would be foremost in our minds as nice people. Number 2 is not a valid excuse for being nasty, most humans want to get our way, it’s natural. What isn’t natural is being mean in the process. (More bees with honey than vinegar etc). Number 3 is also a bit lame as an excuse. Almost every human on the planet has had someone who was nasty to them. Some situations don’t bear thinking about; child abuse, sexual abuse, abandonment for example. For the average person though we see it as a part of life, a bullying that leads to a growing/learning experience helping you cope the next time.

Number 4 used to sadden me as a young woman. If someone doesn’t feel good about themselves, why would they turn that into becoming the kind of person who causes others to feel less about themselves? It’s not logical.

Anyway, I enjoyed and learned a fair bit from this book. If you feel you may be either a ‘Nasty and In-violating’ type of person, or could learn how to deal with one in your life check the library or Amazon for a copy of the book, in the meantime..say it with me people. “Take Care of You”.

Are you silent?

quote on oppression  In this busy and chaotic world many of us are in a hurry to get somewhere, we don’t have time or the energy to step in and help someone. Is it really that? Are you in that big a rush to get to work where, let’s face it you could be excused for being late if you stopped and helped a fellow human being from being hurt or robbed on the street. Or, is it that you just don’t want to get involved because you might have to start feeling something? It’s scary being a hero sometimes.

A friend of mine posted something on FB the other day about how he had stopped and helped an elderly accident victim. It was a few minutes out of his day, (which I’m sure is just as busy as ours, knowing him). He received some real positive accolades and likes from friends and acquaintances, but that’s not why he did it. What’s the difference between him and us? Opportunity, kindness, a first aid kit in his car? I don’t know in this case, but I do hope that if someone needed human comfort I would be there to help and not just drive on by. 

The example above is not a case of bullying or domestic violence, it was a road accident, but the premise is the same isn’t it? The B.C. Lions have teamed up (excuse the pun) with the Ending Violence Association of B.C. to promote a program called ‘Be More Than A Bystander’. Some of the players tour through the province and speak to kids/teens about not just being silent when you see someone in trouble. At parties or at school they can speak up in an assertive way to let the victim know they aren’t alone, and the bully/violator know that someone’s watching their movements. Other C.F.L teams have jumped on-board so the message is spreading, ‘Let someone know that you have their back, they aren’t alone’. Take care of you, and those around you because you don’t need a cape and tights to be a hero to someone. 


115px-Portable_violet             The computer at work was down for a couple of weeks so aside from the Executive Director posting (that I put up from home) I haven’t been able to add any thoughts, advice or discussion topics on to the website. It was akin to getting clean. I had no way of relaxing when stressed at work, I only used in the privacy of my own home when it was mandated by a higher authority, and despite having the works right in front of me there was no spark to get things going. I didn’t like it. 

When I’m out with hubby or friends I try very hard not to check my phone, I consider it rude when there are flesh and blood people in front of me, to text those that are out of hugging range. It’s true that there are positives and negatives to all technology; what do you consider a negative? Aside from the cyber stalking and sexting (which should be personal and intimate, not for other’s eyes) concepts. 

Are there other things you’re dependent on to get through the day? Coffee or a cigarette? Medications or exercise, have you ever felt too dependent on another person? That’s when you might have a serious problem. Becoming too attached means that when the other person isn’t there you start to panic, you worry that they might not love you anymore, you might even start following them to make sure they aren’t with someone else. It’s a sign of low self-esteem and lack of confidence in yourself. It might seem romantic to have someone ‘complete you’ but this is real life not the movies. Everyone needs time to themselves, and I mean everyone! If you’re partner is out with friends, call up a pal of your own and have a movie night, or be cool with being on your own and have a personal spa evening. Whatever you decide, take care of you. If someone in your life is with you all the time, not giving you time to breathe or see friends/family maybe it’s time you talked to a counselor, just to see if your instincts are right. 

Executive Director Job Post application details.



THS Logo, hires                                  CSA logo_dk cyan                                      Grace House_colour



Powell River & Region Transition House Society &

Powell River Community Services Association

Closing Date:

Friday, August 17, 2018 at 12:00 noon

To Submit an Application:

Please forward an application with a covering letter, a current curriculum vitae, including four professional references to “The Board Hiring Committee” at Powell River & Region Transition House Society,

209 – 6975 Alberni Street, Powell River, BC, V8A 2B8,

Fax: 1-604- 485-6168

Or, E-mail to:

Thank you for your interest.

Only short-listed candidates will be contacted. Please see the full job description in the other blog post labelled ‘Executive Director Job Posting’.


Executive Director of Powell River & Region Transition House and Powell River Community Services Association.



THS Logo, hires                                                     CSA logo_dk cyan                                              Grace House_colour


Powell River & Region Transition House Society Powell River Community Services Association

Job Description

Position:    Executive Director   

Reports to:    Board of Directors

Purpose of Position:  

The Executive Director provides visionary and practical leadership in two multi-program, non-profit organizations and is responsible for the overall administration and supervision of all seven programs operated by the Powell River & Region Transition House Society and the Powell River Community Services Association.


 -Should possess post-secondary degree in a related field or equivalent combination of training, experience and education. 

 -Must have sound knowledge and understanding in the area of violence against women and children.  

 -Background and skills should include: five to seven years management level experience in a non-profit society, excellent oral and written communication skills and a proven ability to supervise staff and volunteers. 

 -Familiarity working within a unionized environment is preferred.

Key Areas of Responsibility:


- Formulates, develops and implements new or revised policy, goals, operational policies, new program proposals, directions or initiatives, impacts of legislative changes, resource needs and other matters of importance to the agency; 

 -Provides information to and recommends/presents proposals and plans to the Board for review, discussion and approval;

 -Offers guidance and implements decisions of the Board in keeping with all legal and contractual obligations undertaken by the organization;

- Reports monthly to the Board of Directors on the status of the programs; 

 -Alerts the Board promptly of any extraordinary circumstances, including financial, legal or ethical issues that may arise;

 -Ensures proper administration of all record keeping

 -Ensures staffing configurations, scheduling, etc. are in keeping with program needs and funding levels;

 -Strong financial knowledge and experience, including budgeting, analysis, reporting and communicating to the Board, Auditors and Funders;

 -Demonstrated excellence in written communication skills, including the ability to develop and write briefs, proposals, contracts, presentations and reports;

- Ensures flow of communication between Board of Directors and staff and between programs.

Fiscal Management:

 -Prepares annual budgets for each of the seven programs for their specific, provincial funders;

 -In conjunction with the Bookkeeper, prepares annual budgets and cash flow for Board approval and monitors ongoing allocation of resources and monthly financial reports to the board;

 -With Board approval, prepares applications for any and all funding bodies, including seeking new funding sources as appropriate;

 -Works with fundraising committee as required, setting objectives and assisting with initiatives and event coordination.

Personnel Supervision:

 -Coordinates and participates in all staff hiring;

-Provides evaluation of Counselling program staff (Stopping the Violence Counselling and PEACE program, formerly Children Who Witness Abuse),SVSS and PBVS Coordinators and the Grace House Manager;

 -Manages professional development within budget, including assessing, coordinating and recommending staff training requests;

 -Encourages staff input and involvement in the decision-making process where appropriate;

 -Shows a proven ability to provide support and supervision to staff;

 -Keeps current on collective agreement and participates in negotiations as necessary.

Program Service Delivery:

 -Ensures all aspects of Provincially contracted services are fulfilled;

 Works with staff to ensure a high quality of client-based service delivery in the seven programs within the two societies;

 Ensures the physical maintenance of the Main Office and Grace House are             in compliance with Safety Standards required by law.

Community Liaison and Public Relations:

-Establishes and maintains effective relationships with senior and other  government officials: clients and stakeholders, funding sources, volunteers, community groups etc;


 -Communicates, presents and promotes the agency’s services and funding needs to the community etc;

 Represents the agency at community and fundraising events or other official functions;

 -Participates on working committees within the provincial zone, and other groups as an agency advocate.

 -Excellent ability to communicate and negotiate with different levels of government;

 -Possess a strong understanding of the impacts of colonization and experience working with Indigenous people and communities;

 -Possess excellent interpersonal, public relations and networking skills;

 -Possess a strong understanding of violence against women and children and familiarity with current research, understanding and theoretical approaches to working with survivors of violence;

 -Shows creativity and a sense of humour where appropriate;  Understands diplomacy and confidentiality.

Orientation & Training: 

 -Be willing to undertake appropriate professional development as needed.

 -Attend out-of-town meetings and conferences as necessary and appropriate.


 -Must have the ability to function independently, manage projects, meet deadlines, and respond to crisis or emergency situations;

 -Is physically able to support this position;

 -Must have a Satisfactory Criminal Record Clearance; 

     -Maintains a Current BC Driver’s License.

A Road Less Traveled?

roads_paths_photography_04    In lyrics from the theme song for our high school graduation, “Do you know where you’re going to?” (Diana Ross) asked, ‘do you like the things that life is showing you?’ It’s a good question to ask yourself now and then. The second part of the question should be, ‘if  you don’t like what life is showing you, what are you going to do about it?’

Have you ever recalled the ambitions you had as a young person; career choices, travel to distant lands, writing for National Geographic while working part-time for Dian Fossey, (yes those last two were mine, but here I sit, in my 20th year of supporting people). There are people all around you who aren’t doing what they dreamed they would be at this point in their life, are you one of them or did you follow through with your education and employment plans? Are you still married to the first person who caught your heart or have you moved on? Are you at an age where you feel you can follow a different path, the Road Less Traveled perhaps? 

If you’re in a shaky or outright abusive relationship, dreaming about anything besides immediate needs and safety may seem undo-able, expressing a desire for different outcomes to decisions can often be dangerous. How can you maneuver the necessary transition from victim to survivor for you and your children? It’s so much more than ‘just leaving’ isn’t it? Leaving an abusive relationship comes with a lot of pain and worry. The legal process alone is daunting, and the emotional aspects aren’t made any easier by the situation being made public. If you’re reading this and you’re thinking about next steps, please call someone at one of our programs. Even if you’re just working it out in your mind, we’re here for you.

Grace House 604-485-9779

Stopping the Violence Counselling 604-485-6965


Understanding the ‘other side’

Due to some staffing changes our E.D. did the grocery shopping for the house this morning. She declared it mildly frustrating due to all the strangers in town for Kathaumixw, people new to Powell River, (some new to Canada!) We discussed how good it is for people to sometimes do someone else’s job so they appreciate them more. I joked with her and said, “I’m still not doing your agency budgets!”

Math was never my strong point.

I used to say that no matter what you did with numbers; add, subtract, multiply or divide, you just wound up with more numbers. With words, you put them in a certain order and they make sentences, then paragraphs, then finally whole books. (I’m not leaving out prose or poetry when I discuss format here, just trying to keep the scope a bit more narrow). I’m entranced with the minds of people like the late Stephen Hawking, his brain was just so much more advanced than 99% of the population. Professor Hawking died this past March, who knows how much more he could have taught us. I have included one of his quotes, this one seems to fit with my blog theme today. 

Change is a subject I’ve tackled before so I won’t bore you with my thoughts again, suffice it to say, (as my ED did this morning) it’s good to shake things up, to do someone else’s job once in a while so you can get perspective on their challenges and reduce the risk of taking them for granted. Next time you’re tempted to take the same road to work, or make the same dish with your pound of hamburger, try something different, do it for Stephen.

Intelligence is the ability to adapt to change.  Stephen Hawking

Baby Love

The odd time we get babies in the house, small humans who are for the most part completely trusting. I couldn’t have children, (I may have mentioned that, if so forgive me). I’m way over it now, but every-time I see one, I get a bad case of ‘granny lust’. I have a hard time believing I’m old enough to be a ‘granny’ but some women my age reached that stage years ago! So…here I sit, not a rocker or knitting needles in sight, but the feelings all the same. 

It’s interesting to see the different stages of trust among the younger set. Some will just open their little ‘sectioned’ arms the minute they meet me, some will stare at me for days before they consent to let me hold them if their mom’s busy with something. The second group is savvy, they have to gauge your level of danger to themselves before they submit. They are the ones, especially the girls, I have hope for. They are suspicious, wary and have some boundaries, this should serve them well with other less friendly strangers than yours truly. 

Mothers please teach your children ‘stranger danger’, I’m not just talking about the creepy guy in a van who wants help finding his puppy, or the woman who comes to elementary schools saying they’re there to pick up their ‘grandchild’. I mean anyone. If you have a gathering of people at your house don’t force your child to hug everyone goodnight, if they feel comfortable that’s fine, but honour their hesitation. I’m an unknown to the children we see in the house, I know that and am fine with being evaluated. Don’t apologize for your kids if they don’t leap into someone’s arms at first meeting. Be proud of them for being wary, it could save their life! Take care of you, and your children.

Job posting-Stopping the Violence Outreach.

Stopping the Violence Outreach…

LOCATION: Powell River, British Columbia
EMPLOYER: PR Transition House Society
CATEGORY: Career Opportunities
Stopping the Violence Outreach Program Coordinator -Part time 17.5 hours per week Powell River & Region Transition House Society
The STV Outreach Coordinator will:
-provide support to women who have experienced violence in relationships
-liaise with community organizations
-represent Powell River & Region Transition House Society at various community events
-promote Powell River & Region Transition House Society principles
-facilitate and support clients moving to independent living
-organize and facilitate proactive community workshops, as required.
The successful candidate will have:
-a degree/diploma in social services plus two years experience in community development and/or women’s anti-violence work (Combinations of education and experience will be considered.)
-understanding from a feminist perspective
-high energy -appropriate empathic skills
-a clear understanding of the social and personal effects of domestic violence
-a clear understanding of the importance of safety and confidentiality for women and children
-a current RCMP criminal record check
-access to a safe and dependable vehicle and a Class 5 Driver’s Licence.
Please submit a complete application package, including names of three professional references to Julie Chambers, Executive Director, 209-6975 Alberni Street, Powell River, BC, V8A 2B8, or via email: by Tuesday, June 26, 2018, 4 pm. This is a unionized, part time position which will begin on Tuesday, July 3, 2018. Thank you for your interest in our Society. Only those considered for interview will be contacted.

Job Opportunity


LOCATION: Powell River, British Columbia
EMPLOYER: PR Transition House Society
CATEGORY: Career Opportunities
GRACE HOUSE HOUSE MANAGER 30 hours per week Powell River & Region Transition House Society The Grace House Manager will:
-lead Grace House staff members to positively support women, and their children, who have experienced domestic violence in relationships
-liaise with community organizations on behalf of Grace House
-represent Powell River & Region Transition House Society, specifically Grace House, at various community events
-promote Powell River & Region Transition House Society principles throughout the community
-understand and communicate the limitations of provincial mandates to community agencies
-take responsibility for and direct the day-to-day running of the House
-direct all personnel and human resources for Grace House
-support the Executive Director in management duties related to Grace House.
The successful candidate will have:
-a degree/diploma in Social Services plus five years experience in community development and/or women’s anti-violence work (Combinations of education and experience will be considered.)
-understanding from a feminist perspective
-high energy
-appropriate empathic skills
-a clear understanding of the social and personal effects of domestic violence
-a clear understanding of the importance of safety and confidentiality for women and children
-a current RCMP criminal record check
-access to a safe and dependable vehicle and a Class 5 Driver’s Licence.
Please submit a complete application package, including names of three professional references to Julie Chambers, Executive Director, 209-6975 Alberni Street, Powell River, BC, V8A 2B8, or via email: by Wednesday, July 18, 2018, 4 pm. This is a non-unionized, part time management position which will begin on Wednesday, August 22, 2018. Thank you for your interest in our Society. Only those considered for interview will be contacted.

Summer is here!

westcoastsummer   June 21st, the longest day in the calendar year, is here. Are you excited, are you so happy that winter is over and that beach activities are in your future? I’m more of an autumn girl myself but in the spirit of not rushing time/life, we’ll go along with summer for now. So, back to work today after my excursion to the nation’s capital. It was an amazing workshop, and I came back with lots of ideas and information to share.

One of the courses I attended talked about adapting the transition houses for women with communication challenges (ours not theirs). To put up signs on cupboard doors augmenting the written descriptions we have already, perhaps some braille or pictures showing what’s in each. We also talked about developing some hand out sheets or pamphlets in braille. We sometimes go along through life assuming that other people communicate like we do. Unless you’re in a field of work that supports people who learn differently you just don’t consider it. Another workshop I attended discussed technology safety. We learned about all the security measures we can put on our own phones and devices and how to support others to do the same. We learned about all the ways there were now for someone to stalk their partner using location GPS type apps. Check out the interview below for all the scary ways that people can be tracked!

deuxieme jour (day two)

microphone   Today started in a wonderful way, (considering I got 0 sleep again). After breakfast at the university we walked en masse to the nearby Shaw Center for the second day in a row. This is where we have the morning plenary sessions and speakers. This morning we had the Dandelion Dance Performance Company perform about 8 interpretive pieces for us. They are a unique troupe; made up of young women from all walks of life, builds and experiences. Many of their pieces come about as the results of personal beliefs, things that matter to them. They defy social pressures to be perfectly made up, have socially acceptable bodies, and they do pieces that speak out loud. The dances today covered hunger, children’s rights, inclusion etc. A very powerful and uplifting start to the day. If these young women are examples of our nations future we are in good hands.

Following these young women was a movie clip and speech from Alanis Obamsawin. She has been producing films for over 50 years, showing us through song and her films how she has advocated for her people, the Abenaki Nation. We watched a portion of her film ‘No Address’ about the first nations people in Montreal and how the move from their home territories to the city of Montreal has caused rampant poverty and homelessness. Following this impassioned piece we watched as four women from diverse cultures described their views on how to reduce barriers to VAW services.

After trooping back over the bridge to the campus for lunch, we all split into a wide variety of workshops as we did yesterday. Any workshop that has a French component involved requires headsets for translation, (obviously that goes the other way for the English speakers addressing Francophone participants) it’s great to see that everyone can be involved in the workshops they choose regardless of the language. I chose the workshop that dealt with the links between VAW and homelessness. It’s troubling but not surprising, women make the decisions to stay or go often not knowing what leaving is going to bring about. Is it the same as deciding between the devil and the deep blue sea? Sometimes it is. With little to no affordable housing (and by the way pretty much everyone I’ve talked to out here has the same message as our city, we are not alone).

The second workshop was probably my favourite so far in that it dealt with the media, websites, dealing with community partners. It was called ‘Promoting Women’s Safety through Political Engagement and the News Media’.

Aside from a newspaper story and council visit regarding the Purple Light Night, the ads for VAW weeks each year, and the great coverage around the annual Shoe Memorial, our agency doesn’t do a lot around media coverage. We rely on our STVO to educate the Powell River people about our services through placement of cards/pamphlets and doing public education speaking engagements. Is this enough? Do Powell Riverites know what services we provide? I’m hoping this website can answer some questions anyway. If there’s something you’d like to see covered or answered about us, let me know. Thanks from Ottawa!

My Trip…so far

canada1So I’m currently in Ottawa, that’s right, our nation’s capital! I’m here for a conference and it’s pretty cool to meet women who work in the anti-violence field from all across Canada. Today I attended the opening ceremony and two fascinating workshops. The first one was on how transition houses/programs can better serve those with disabilities. It’s actual title was ‘Accessibility and Inclusion in the Shelter System Beyond the Wheelchair and Ramp: An Intersectional Approach. This covered not only those women with hearing and vision reductions, physical and ABI challenges, but women dealing with Autism Spectrum conditions, Down’s Syndrome etc. It was a varied group that attended and we’ll all take something back to our home agencies. For this writer it’s paying more attention to the house itself. Do we have enough signs (in braille or pictures) to augment the written ones we have already? Is our physical space adaptable to women using wheelchairs. Do we have braille hand out sheets instead of written ones for seeing clients? Some things to think about.

The second workshop was called ‘The Link Between Physical and Mental Wellbeing and Trauma’. The first presentation was on a group of women who had already fled relationship abuse paddling with a group of women still living with it. As a Dragon Boat Paddler (semi-retired) I can attest to the feeling of working with other women to attain a goal. Watching the video I could feel the spray on my face and my muscles contracted with each stroke they took. It was cool to see that groups beyond the Breast Cancer survivors are realizing the benefits; both physical and mental of paddling as a team! The second part was on Yoga practice for women in Transition House/2nd Stage housing and what the breathing and awareness can do to help with stress .Anyway, there’s a storm brewing in Ottawa tonight, I have to get dressed for the networking dinner so I’ll leave the lessons for today with you. Take care of you.




The effects of sleep deprivation

While it may seem like losing sleep isn’t such a big deal, sleep deprivation has a wide range of negative effects that go way beyond daytime drowsiness. Lack of sleep affects your judgment, coordination, and reaction times. In fact, sleep deprivation can affect you just as much as being drunk.

The effects include:


*Fatigue, lethargy, and lack of motivation

*Moodiness and irritability; increased risk of depression

*Decreased sex drive; relationship problems

*Impaired brain activity; learning, concentration, and memory problems

*Reduced creativity and problem-solving skills; difficulty making decisions

*Inability to cope with stress, difficulty managing emotions

*Premature skin aging

*Weakened immune system; frequent colds and infections; weight gain

*Impaired motor skills and increased risk of accidents; hallucinations and delirium

*Increased risk of serious health problems including stroke, diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, Alzheimer’s disease, and certain cancers

How sleep deprivation can add to your waistline

Ever noticed how when you’re short on sleep you crave sugary foods that give you a quick energy boost? There’s a good reason for that. Sleep deprivation has a direct link to overeating and weight gain.

There are two hormones in your body that regulate normal feelings of hunger and fullness. Ghrelin stimulates appetite, while leptin sends signals to the brain when you are full. However, when you don’t get the sleep you need, your ghrelin levels go up, stimulating your appetite so you want more food than normal, and your leptin levels go down, meaning you don’t feel satisfied and want to keep eating. So, the more sleep you lose, the more food your body will crave.’


I didn’t post this today because I’m on my third 12 hour shift and have had a total of 12 hours sleep in the last 3 nights, honestly. It just occurred to me that there are a lot of people out there who don’t get enough REM hours (and I’m not talking about the band) every night. For a woman who is in the midst of an abusive relationship, trying to deal with a volatile partner, children, perhaps a job; keeping everything together on no sleep can seem insurmountable. Ask if there’s anything you can do to help out, perhaps take the kids for a few hours so she can get some rest, it might seem like a little thing, but we know how much stronger and clear thinking we are when we get some down time!