Voicing Our Stories/Remaking Our Lives: Women Speak Out

Text Size: Normal / Medium / Large
Printer-friendly versionPrinter-friendly version

The words in Voicing Our Stories/Remaking Our Lives evoke tales that have been concealed by women because the stories have been taboo, forbidden, unacceptable. The women are honest and direct; they write from their experiences. While some women have come through their difficulties, others are still struggling. Yet all of the women here have given voice to issues that many others experience and still struggle to overcome.

We hope that these narratives will inspire women who are trying to continue their personal work. We hope too that the stories will help those in the health profession B therapists, shelter workers, social workers B to better respect and understand women who have endured abuse, harassment, racism or poverty. We hope that these stories inspire health professionals to offer women improved and more appropriate services, and develop a deeper appreciation of what kinds of supports women and children need. For example D. Lussier Nanson shows us that perceptive and sensitive measures continually need to be in place both to detect and to prevent the abuse of young children. In their stories of immigrant women, Elvira Herrera and Mona Aziz demonstrate the need for service providers to be culturally sensitive. Service providers should be aware not only of the challenges of adjustment facing immigrant women, but also of the possible addiction struggles or physical and sexual abuse issues with which they may also be grappling. Bernadette Alpen poses disturbing questions concerning power, sensitivity and trust in relationships between child abuse intervention service providers and client-families.

Many of the stories in this collection demonstrate that help is not always available to children or adult women. As readers, we need to ask ourselves why this is. In Ontario today, a crisis exists in health and social services for women. Over the last four years, fiscal conservative measures in the province have eliminated many key services for women and children and continue to threaten existing gains. Take for example, hospital closures; a freeze on public housing for the homeless and for abused women and their children; a 21.6 percent cut to welfare benefits; drastic cuts to education, daycare and to services for female minorities and women's shelters; removal of rent restrictions; and the overturning of pay equity laws. Voicing Our Stories/Remaking Our Lives demonstrates how women use their own resources to find their way. Sometimes - and especially in times such as these B it is only by chance that women find support and direction from "official" services. How can this situation be overcome or improved?

Voicing Our Stories/Remaking Our Lives will reach beyond women in struggle and the professionals who provide support to them; the stories will reach friends and other family members. The women's narratives clearly demonstrate the need for all of us to advocate for safe families, safe childhoods, constructive and nurturing parenting and the right to be respected in the workplace. By drawing on women's knowledge, we can better develop programs that promote health and well-being, that more effectively train service providers and teach strategies for community health. Speaking out and voicing one's story is a strategy. It is a process that contributes to women's recovery: for the women themselves, for women who read their stories and for professionals who help women and children.

The Grassroots Women's Collective are Mary O'Connor, Marcela Leighton Krautter, Maggie Fischbuch, Reva Bomberry, Mona Aziz. Text reprinted from the book's introduction with kind permission from Second Story Press.

Voicing Our Stories/Remaking Our Lives: Women Speak Out
Published by Second Story Press,1999
720 Bathurst Street, Suite 301
Toronto, ON
M5S 2R4
Tel: (416) 537-7850
Fax: (416) 537-0588
E-mail: secstory@fox.nstn.ca