At Atira, our work is informed by our understanding that women’s experiences of gender-based violence is central to their use of substances and that understanding the intersections between women’s experience of violence, poverty, racism, and gendered patterns of substance use and harm are critical to the development of programs that are seamless and increase opportunities for women to keep themselves safe.
We operate SisterSpace, which is currently the only women-only community accessible overdose prevention site in the world. We know from our own experience at Atira and in the Downtown Eastside that women often face significant barriers in accessing co-ed services. It is not uncommon for women to have to line up with men who have caused or want to cause them harm; or to have to wait in the same room. Many women simply make the decision to forego services altogether.
We expect it will not be uncommon for women to use the room following experiences of trauma such as a physical or sexual assault or rape. Further, we expect women will use when they are feeling despondent about loss of contact and relationship with their children and or their intimate relationships and or other familial relationships.
Learn more here about the impact SisterSpace has had on the community.
Ways to Advocate:
- Get a better understanding of harm reduction practices in relation to substance use and how it can benefit communities and serve as a non-judgmental approach to offer support to everyone, read here.
- Support the opening of more overdose prevention sites and learn more here about overdose prevention sites available to you in your area.