In Canada, as in many other parts in the world, women first operated rape crisis centres and transition houses in the mid 70’s as part of the second wave of the feminist movement. The collective of Vancouver Rape Relief and Women’s Shelter has been operating a rape crisis centre since 1973 and a transition house since 1981. In April 2009, we invited women who stayed in our own transition house, and in the second stage housing of Monroe House and Safe Choice, to share their experience of using these houses to get free from violent men.
During my weekly night at the house, I spend time with our residents, help out with chores and play with children. As I support them in their transition to a life without violence, we share with each other what we know of male violence against women as I see them in their resistance part of the women’s liberation movement.
Personal and political decisions are made at kitchen tables everyday as we share our foods and lived experiences; we teach and learn from all women. The work in our kitchen is much more than preparing meals.
To celebrate our 35th anniversary and respond to our changing context, we hosted an international gathering of women from English-speaking welfare state countries undergoing similar neoliberal political changes, including England, Scotland, New Zealand, Australia, the United States and Canada. They joined us in considering the challenges currently facing our movement and in recommitting to the transition house as a strategy for women’s liberation.