‘Oh, shift’ has become a go-to phrase for Carol Metz Murray, the Executive Director at Tri-City Transitions, a women’s shelter in Port Coquitlam, BC.

Metz Murray adopted the term over the years – it’s something she says when life throws her in another (unwelcome) direction. “Every time I think I get to the point where I’ve figured it all out, something else arrives,” said Metz Murray.

For years, Metz Murray has been using her own personal experiences of abuse to help women in need. She was just six-years-old when she was sexually abused for the first time, a terrifying experience she was forced to endure until she was 12. Only a few years later, she was raped.

She said the cycle of abuse began again when she married her husband, but this time it lasted for nearly 23 years. “There were many times I thought I should leave, and quite frankly, it wasn’t safe,” said Metz Murray.

Unfortunately for Metz Murray, she never had access to the resources she so desperately needed to help her leave her marriage. She said the use of a women’s shelter might have pushed her to walk away from the relationship sooner. It’s why she believes her work at the shelter is so vital to women suffering from abuse.

“Having a safe place, a secure place … to actually take a breath and not have to look over their shoulder is so necessary,” explained Metz Murray.

Finally able to gather the courage and leave her toxic relationship, she decided to use her experiences to help women in similar circumstances.

Tri-City Transitions seems like the perfect fit for a woman whose whole life has been about adjusting to adversity. “Change and transition have been my whole life,” she said. 

‘Having a safe place, a secure place … to actually take a breath and not have to look over their shoulder is necessary’

According to her, it’s all about setting the women in the right direction. Once they arrive at the shelter, staff work with the women to complete a personal success plan, including goals, a safety plan and a complete risk assessment.

She wants to teach these women that they don’t have to be a victim for the rest of their lives. In fact, she doesn’t really like the term ‘victim’. “You can be victimized through violence and sexual assault, but it’s how you work through that to move yourself forward,” said Metz Murray.

Instead of victims, she sees strength and courage in the women at the shelter. “She is an incredibly strong and resilient woman and that I believe that she will make the choice that is necessary for her,” said Metz Murray, regarding the women who visit the shelter.

Although her position at the organization doesn’t involve much front line work, she always makes herself available for coaching or mentoring. Her goal is to help the women make positive choices and work toward progress. “It’s given me a really strong, courageous foundation in which to help women move forward,” said Metz Murray.

It’s because of her background that she challenges these women, pushing them to set goals and encouraging them to heal. She’s hopeful they’ll reach a point where they can learn to separate their experiences from who they are and not let the abuse define them.

Her dedication to the shelter and the women is obvious, as is her pride for the work they accomplish at the organization. “That’s my purpose, my direction,” said Metz Murray.

Written by Meaghan Willis