“Because I’m older now and the work’s begun/Though my pain is subdued/nobody’s won/I wear the scars of life upon my skin/But the deepest scars I wear within.” - Lyrics from a song titled New Roads, written by Rick Storey. (Kendra Crighton/News Staff)

House of Hope: Turning trauma into triumph

Stories from Umbrella Society’s Foundation House

This is the second instalment in a four-part series on recovery in Greater Victoria. Find more in the next edition of Victoria News or online at vicnews.com/tag/house-of-hope.

As soon as Rick Storey sits down on one of the mismatched couches in Foundation House’s living room — one of three recovery homes run by Umbrella Society for people dealing with substance abuse issues — he says he’s come from a history of post-traumatic stress.

“Basically, PTSD [post-traumatic stress disorder] seems to be my thing,” he says in a deep, rough voice that sounds pretty good when paired with gentle strums on his acoustic guitar. Storey describes a past that he no longer wants any part of — wrestling with self-sabotage, turning to drugs, fights exploding and ending in prison sentences. “That’s been the story of my life.”

Paula Greene, executive director of the Men’s Trauma Centre, says researchers have found a direct link between childhood abuse and PTSD resulting in an involvement with the criminal justice system. When a child internalizes the abuse they’ve experienced it can distort vast facets of their life such as trust, intimacy and their sense of self-worth, says Greene, which in turn can lead to a life of substance abuse issues or involvement in criminal activity.

ALSO READ: Couple learns to cope with PTSD

Storey uses the word terror a lot when he talks about his father, describing situations where, as a 10-year-old, he would do things to provoke his father in order to save his mom and two younger sisters from a beating. As a way of escaping residential schools in the mid ‘60s in Winnipeg, Storey’s mother married his father, a 25-year-old professional boxer from Russia. It wasn’t until years later, after seeing his mother’s age on his birth certificate, that he realized she was 12 years old when he was born. After two years of counselling and therapy, Storey has been able to deal with a memory that had a monumental impact on his life, although he didn’t speak about it for close to 40 years.

“I watched [my dad] punch my mother until she collapsed in the corner of the kitchen floor,” he says. “I thought he killed my mom, she hit the floor and I watched for minutes — she didn’t breath. I couldn’t even cry.”

It’s a memory that Storey can recall every detail of. Looking his 10-year-old son in the eye, Storey’s father took the biggest knife the family owned out of a nearby drawer and patted his son on the head.

“Don’t ever get married, he told me … and while looking me in the eyes he just peeled his arm, 360 degrees, right to the bone,” he draws a circle around his right forearm as he’s talking. Storey remembers the blood going everywhere — the floor, the walls, all over his face and in his mouth — “even the taste of blood still brings back those memories.”

Eventually, Storey’s uncles showed up and took his father to a local veterinary clinic that would see him get airlifted to hospital, and then came back to deal with his mother, still laying on the kitchen floor.

“They went and got a sheet off my mom’s bed,” with the plan of burying her to save her abuser from a life in jail, but as Storey’s uncles were loading her into the back of a car they realized she still had a pulse. They took her to a hospital, saying they had found her on the side of the road in that condition.

A week later Storey’s father came home with a deformed arm that allowed him to work but left him unable to fight professionally ever again. It was four months and a week after the brutal beating when a cab pulled up outside the family’s house and Storey’s mother got out.

“Our family never discussed it, everyone knew but it was never discussed.”

According to Greene, PTSD is very apparent in the men who seek out services at the Men’s Trauma Centre, although it can look very different from the stereotypical war veteran image such as aggressive or addictive behaviour.

“It can also look like debilitating anxiety and depression, panic attacks, agoraphobia, social isolation — I mean, you name it and it can present that way,” she says.

Blake Andison, who works for Umbrella Society and first met Storey about a year ago in the Vancouver Island Regional Correctional Centre after Storey had requested to speak with him, agrees with Greene.

ALSO READ: Greater Victoria’s opioid crisis

“Some are willing to process [their trauma] and look at it and others are not, but I would say almost everyone I’m working with has some form of trauma they’re trying to work through,” he says.

Storey has since left Foundation House and moved into a place of his own, has a solid job doing construction work and has even started his own company called Richard Karl Contracting. Storey recently attended the grand opening of Our Place’s Therapeutic Recovery Community, which has been renamed New Roads after a song Storey wrote while staying there. He performed the song at the event in front of 200 people, but there was only one person in the audience he could see — his daughter.

“I haven’t seen my kids for three years,” says Storey. “When she heard I was going to do this song she wanted to come — it was a really healing day for both of us. She said, ‘Dad, I’ve never been so proud of you.’ So, that was big for me.”

Both Andison and Storey have high hopes for the next chapter in Storey’s life. He finishes his interview with Black Press Media by reading his Drug of Choice letter, written as part of therapy, detailing his goodbye to a life he wants nothing to do with.

“Today, I’m of sound mind, clarity and focus to understand, that although not a drug, my cycle and repetition of sabotage, chaos and bad behaviour has been because I couldn’t give myself a moment to be worthy or prideful,” he reads out loud. “… I am who I am today … I’m not broke and damaged, I’m human. I’ve absorbed the self-destruction… and endured many hours of counselling. I am worthy of self-understanding, self-love and forgiveness.”

Currently, Umbrella Society is raising funds to purchase Foundation Home, which they have rented for the past four years. A charity hockey game between various Boston Bruin alumni and Greater Victoria firefighters will help pay for a down payment on the house. To purchase tickets to the charity hockey game or to get in touch with Umbrella Society visit umbrellasociety.ca.



kendra.crighton@blackpress.ca

Follow us on Instagram
Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

House of Hope

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

Scott Shepard (top left), Evan James (top right), Adrian Maxwell (bottom left) and Rick Storey (bottom right) pose with Lyca, Foundation House’s only permanent resident. (Kendra Crighton/News Staff)

Just Posted

Mental Health: Fractured services leave community to fill gaps

Greater Victoria service providers working together to help youth

Bag containing meat, sewing needles found by dog owner in Cordova Bay

Saanich police don’t believe it’s a trend

UVic creates emergency bursary for students facing hardships due to COVID-19

Students can apply by emailing the financial aid office

Colwood Spring Clean-Up postponed, branch drop-off continues

Strict measures in place for branch drop-off

Saanich teen earns $100,000 commerce scholarship to the University of Calgary

Matias Totz is graduating from St. Michaels University School

‘Hold our line’: 29 new cases of COVID-19 announced in B.C.

Saturday’s number of new cases marks the lowest in weeks.

Two inmates found positive for COVID-19 at federal prison in B.C.; other tests pending

15 staff self-isolating waiting results, refusal to work notice sent, says correctional officer

Critic, workers’ group ‘disappointed’ Trudeau chose Amazon to distribute PPE

Amazon Canada said in an email to The Canadian Press that it is working with Canada Post, Purolator

Full World COVID-19 update: National Guard collect ventilators in New York; Spain, Italy improve

Comprehensive coronavirus update with news from around the world.

Nanaimo’s Harmac mill works to fill doubled pulp order for medical masks and gowns

Mill’s president says extra cleaning in place and workers are social distancing

Two people fined after B.C. police spot online ads re-selling 5,000 surgical, N95 masks

Police confiscated the masks, being sold at inflated prices, and now working with Fraser Health

Unclear if Cowichan couple refusing to self-isolate will face penalty

No fines or charges have been laid to date, including Cowichan couple who won’t self isolate

POLL: Will you be able to make your rent or mortgage payment this month?

With the COVID-19 delivering a devastating blow to the global economy, and… Continue reading

COVID-19: Postponed surgeries will be done, B.C. health minister says

Contract with private surgical clinic to help clear backlog

Most Read