All women in these stories have courageously shared their personal experiences of violence and abuse. Names have been changed to protect their identity.

Sandy is a survivor.  She first came to Lilli House seeking safety, more than 10 years ago, and today she supports other women who are seeking the safety and empowerment that she gained through CVTS. For Sandy, healing means being able to support other women whose struggles she understands. Her journey is one of violence and addiction, pain and loss, strength and love, and this is her story.

Sandy was a single mom, raising 4 children, having her first child when she was just 15 years old. She had been a victim of child abuse and sexual assault and had experienced more family trauma than anyone should ever have to endure. The impact of her childhood resulted in Sandy struggling for many years with addiction and unhealthy relationships.

At first, Sandy was managing well on her own but that all changed when she ended up in an abusive relationship and began using alcohol and drugs as a means to cope with her situation. As her life spiralled out of control, things became dangerous for Sandy. She was in rough shape when she ended up at Lilli House to escape the violence.

There, I was able to heal, find relief and kindness, and made healthy connections with others for the first time in my life.”

By this time, CVTS had opened Amethyst House, the residential supported recovery program for women. Sandy was referred to Amethyst House where she took the first steps in addressing her addiction. Eventually, for her own safety and well-being, CVTS staff brought her to the lower mainland, where she was no longer in danger of her abuser, and continued to work courageously to gain control of the addiction and her life. Sandy developed the skills, strategies and self-worth she needed to create a stable life in recovery for herself and her children.

A few years later, Sandy’s desire to reach out to others led to her accomplishing a Frontline Support Worker Program. She now works at Hannah House, a women’s treatment program similar to Amethyst House, helping other women find safety, connection and empowerment.

I find it is easy to work with someone who has experienced what I have experienced. You understand it more, you understand that emptiness of having no return, of being so alone.   Nobody knows how you feel unless they have been through it themselves.”

Today, Sandy is living a healthy, positive life, has reconnected and enjoys spending time with her children and grandchildren, and is almost three years sober.

If not for all the support I received from the staff at Lilli House and Amethyst House, I wouldn’t be here today. All I know here, now, is recovery. Here, [the women] couldn’t see me in any other way than how I am now, and there is not one day that I don’t want to be here.”  ♥