When Vivian Liu, a Dress for Success Vancouver Client Ambassador, accepts her Inspiration Award on November 3rd at Dress for Success Vancouver’s Annual Success Luncheon, there’s one person she knows will be the proudest of her accomplishment, her daughter.
Vivian was born in China and raised by her grandparents, where she suffered in ways no child should. She was forced into free labour at the age of five and, eventually, at seven sent to school where she began to dream of a brighter future. Perpetuating the cycle of familial abuse Vivian became pregnant, then married and moved to Canada hoping for a fresh start for her family.
Breaking the cycle of abuse
Unfortunately, a new country and foreign lifestyle didn’t end the abuse Vivian suffered and she longed for freedom. “It was my priority to put my daughter’s safety first and cut off the abusive relationship,” she explains. “I didn’t want my daughter to experience the abuse cycle in my family where women are treated as inferior, without safety, freedom, dignity and without happiness.”
Struggling to secure Canadian work experience and after several attempts to leave her abuser, Vivian found a support agency that worked to support immigrants. The agency helped her into a transition house in Vancouver. This change gave her the opportunity to break the abusive cycle, giving her daughter the opportunity for a new path.
Finding sisterhood through Dress for Success
While looking for work Vivian was referred to Dress for Success Vancouver, a non profit organization, that empowers women to achieve economic independence. As the experience goes for many, the relationship began with a dressing appointment and an interview outfit that made her feel confident. Eventually she joined the Professional Women’s Group where she found mentorship, sisterhood and support. Since 2019, she has been an ambassador for the organization. She has helped to share stories of empowered women, raising valuable funds to continue to inspire others like her. “I want to be my daughter’s life model and give her hope that we can be independent and build our own life successfully,” she shares.
Building a better life
Vivian is now working towards becoming a licensed social worker. Her vision is to uplift vulnerable women and children to lead more fulfilled lives and create better stories for themselves.
Speaking from her own experience, she continues, “Don’t worry, your children will have a better future. Enjoy the moments with your children and take care yourself, so you have energy to thrive.”
Since March 2020, throughout the pandemic, Dress for Success Vancouver has continued to change lives. The organization has contributed over $1 billion to the economic wellbeing of our city and the province of British Columbia. Learn more about the work of Dress for Success Vancouver and how they support women like Vivian at www.helpingwomennow.ca.
Jenn Wint is a writer, communications strategist and a public relations specialist. She is passionate about storytelling and community. Jenn lives in East Vancouver with her husband, 3yo son and 1yo daughter. You’ll find them hanging around Vancouver’s playgrounds, water parks, coffee shops and anywhere that bakes fresh cookies in-house!