You Are Not Alone: Violence, Substance Use and Mental Health

YouAreNotAloneDVDInternational Agencies such as the United Nations, the World Health Organization, and Amnesty International have all identified violence against women as a serious global human rights issue.

  • A large proportion of women with substance use issues are survivors of domestic violence, incest, rape, sexual assault and child abuse. (Cormier, Dell, and Poole, 2004, 4: S8)
  • Numerous studies have shown a strong and complex connection between a woman’s experience with violence and her mental health. (Hiday, Swartz et al 1999; Jacobson and Richardson 1987)
  • Sex industry workers suffer the highest rates of rape and assault of any population in Canadian society. (Bowen and Davis, Presentation, 2008)

In September 2008, seven women who are natural community leaders in Vancouver’s Downtown East Side began meeting weekly to talk about the impact of relationship violence and sexual assault on their lives and the lives of their peers.

Over a five-day period, the group worked with award-winning filmmaker, Aerlyn Weissman, to produce two vignettes: one on the importance of talking about safety with friends, the other on community connections and community pride. For broader perspective, the film also features interviews with women who have made community safety a cornerstone of their work.

The film and its companion workbook are intended to generate meaningful discussions among women about safety from violence and about substance use, mental health and survival sex work. We hope you find the film inspiring and useful.

Produced by EVA BC with funding from the Vancouver Foundation and the Canadian Women’s Foundation.