Poverty and Trauma: How they are Linked and How You can Help

Four years ago the Centre was launched in reaction to the lack of affordable, long term therapy available to men and women in our community. Over the years, we have noted a striking trend in that many members of our community cannot afford the therapy they so desperately need.  Almost 50% of our clients pay the lowest fees on the sliding scale.

The low-income cut-off (LICO) rates are often quoted by the media as a measure of poverty however Statistics Canada has stated it is not a poverty measure. The LICO published by Statistics Canada in 2005 was 10.8% (Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Poverty_in_Canada). Unfortunately, individuals who have experienced trauma and abuse can become impoverished as a result of their experiences. In 2005, WISE, an organization that works to address the causal link between policy and poverty, encouraged 21 low-income women to tell their personal stories of living in poverty, and to begin their accounts at any point they chose. After all the stories were completed and compiled, the storytellers uncovered two major long-term predictors of their future poverty:

“The #1 predictor of future poverty was overwhelmingly an event, more often a course of events, that traumatized us during childhood. The events mentioned in the greatest number of our stories were abuse, neglect, or exploitation by a guardian or family member. Fourteen of us report having had experiences of this sort. In several cases of abuse, other family members or the community knew about it and did nothing, which increased our isolation” (Sources:  http://bcseawalker.podbean.com/about-wise/; and http://challengingthecommonplace.blogspot.com/2009/02/altered-stress-genes-childhood-trauma.html)

Conversely, those living in poverty can be more likely to experience abuse and trauma. Worldwide research demonstrates this:

“According to a UN report on modern slavery, the most common form of human trafficking is for prostitution, which is largely fueled by poverty. In Zimbabwe, a number of girls are turning to prostitution for food to survive because of the increasing poverty. In one survey, 67% of children from disadvantaged inner cities said they had witnessed a serious assault, and 33% reported witnessing a homicide. 51% of fifth graders from New Orleans (median income for a household: $27,133) have been found to be victims of violence, compared to 32% in Washington, DC (mean income for a household: $40,127).” (Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Poverty)

To support those in our community who are living in poverty and need therapy, the Centre relies on volunteers and donations to help provide a sliding scale for our therapy services. We understand that while people may be motivated to help, it can be tough to make large donations. Thus to respond to the need in our community, the Centre launched a Monthly Giving Club. Small monthly donations are an easy way for people to make a big impact each year. Donors help the Centre provide services on a sliding scale to members of our community who cannot afford therapy.

The Monthly Giving Club is aiming for 200 donors who can give $20 a month. This amounts to less than 70 cents a day, and helps people make a big impact over time. The Monthly Giving Club Members will receive special recognition, and will be updated a few times a year as to the impact of their contributions. Hear what our clients have to say about how Centre donations are used:

“I am deeply grateful for the peace, sense of self, and the compassion for my own suffering that has resulted from the work my therapist and I have done together. My life has been forever changed.”
- Anonymous

“As a client at the Centre I currently only pay a small fee for services. Being a person on disability and raising two teenage daughters would make it impossible for me to get the help I so desperately need paying a full fee.”
- Anonymous

Monthly giving is a creative way to get more people involved, who may otherwise not be capable of making a large, one time gift. You don’t need to have a big stash of cash to be able to make a real difference in your community; a little goes a long way, and anyone can make an impact.

2010 Nov- Trauma and Poverty.pdf87.25 KB