We are group of service providers based in Winnipeg, Manitoba, working to support women with intellectual and neurodevelopmental disabilities who have experienced trauma and are in conflict with the law.
It is well established that women with intellectual or developmental disabilities, including FASD, have often experienced traumatic events as children, adolescents, or young adults.  This particular group of women are more likely to have experienced physical, sexual, or emotional abuse, child welfare involvement, and exposure to community-based violence.  Trauma-related impacts including anxiety, depression, and heightened arousal/reactivity can lead to substance use as a coping mechanism.  Problematic substance use in turn can lead to involvement with the legal system.
Despite the need for gender-, disability-, and culturally-responsive trauma treatment, there are few services available to meet women’s needs.  Existing services may not have the resources to address women’s trauma needs, or they may consider working with this group as outside their scope of practice.  This has meant that many women have been excluded from mainstream services, leaving their trauma and trauma impacts, such as substance use, unaddressed.  In the absence of effective support, women can be vulnerable to further experiences of exploitation and/or violence, which may exacerbate their use of substances to cope.  These experiences can consequently lead to involvement in the justice system.  In effect, the experience of trauma can be considered as both a cause and a consequence of substance use and legal involvement.

Development of this program was funded through the Substance Use and Addiction Program of the Public Health Agency of Canada and contains three phases:

  1. Researching the prevalence of trauma and substance use within the population of women with intellectual disabilities and FASD and legal involvement.

  2. Development, implementation and evaluation of gender- and disability-responsive trauma training for service providers.

  3. Implementation and evaluation of an evidence-based trauma-specific intervention for this particular group of women.

We are currently in the training phase of this project – please see our training page to learn more about educational opportunities or contact us for more information, including how to join us now that the sessions have started.
We plan to begin a pilot of our healing circles in early 2022.  Please continue to follow this page or contact us to learn more.