Safe Choices Program
To see upcoming workshops, please visit our Calendar of Events.
Safe Choices focuses on improving the health and safety of women who are currently or have been in abusive same-sex/gender relationships by empowering women and strengthening our communities to respond to this issue.
Our use of the term “women” includes transgender/transsexual women. While the primary focus of the program is lesbian, bisexual, queer, Two-Spirit and trans women, we work to be inclusive of people with various gender identities as well as gay men in some circumstances.
Please note: Safe Choices services are available only in areas served by Vancouver Coastal Health. All services are free of charge.
The Safe Choices Program offers:
- Workshops about healthy relationships and violence in relationships for women in same-sex/gender relationships.
- Publications about healthy relationships and violence in same-sex/gender relationships.
- Consultation and training for service providers and systems personnel who want to make their services more effective and accessible for women in same-sex/gender relationships.
- Referrals to appropriate support services for women in same-sex/gender relationships.
(Please contact us for this service.)
Safe Choices is managed by EVA BC and funded by the SMART Fund of Vancouver Coastal Health.
Act II Child and Family Services conceived Safe Choices in 1999 as a support and education program that would offer training workshops for service providers and a phone line and support group for women who had experienced violence in their same-sex/gender relationships.
In 2002, EVA BC adopted Safe Choices and reconceived it as a program that would offer consultations, skill-building workshops (including training for service providers and support and education workshops for lesbian, bisexual and trans women) and referrals.
The shift away from ongoing direct support work was made in order to focus on community development activities, to work within the constraints of a limited budget and to align the program further with the aims of the SMART fund. As well, many survivors of same-sex/gender relationship abuse in Vancouver and other major cities were not accessing relationship abuse support groups for lesbians. Reasons included shame about publicly identifying themselves as being in an abusive relationship and/or confusion about whether their experience was abusive. More women were coming to learn about healthy relationships than to talk about their experiences of abuse. In the late 1990s, many queer service providers and researchers expressed interest in focusing on healthy relationships as a new strategy to engage queer communities in dialogue about relationship abuse.