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Mina's Story

Her husband Laurence was in another province, hiding, because he owed the wrong people a lot of money. “He promised he would stop gambling, but he carried on and on,” says Mina. “I knew it was affecting our finances: I didn’t think it would go this far.”

It started six years ago. Laurence’s business was failing. He was frustrated, depressed and in debt. He was losing confidence in his business and himself. To escape his problems, Laurence would go to the racetrack. Back when he lived in Hong Kong, he had a major win. He thought another big win would solve his financial problems. But that plan didn’t work: Laurence kept losing. He returned to the racetrack almost every day—trying to win back the money he lost.

Mina noticed money was going missing. Laurence started lying about where he was, mixing up his stories. She confronted her husband and he admitted he was in trouble. Laurence promised to stop gambling. And for a while, he did.

Laurence was focused on starting a new career. He returned to school and worked at night to pay off his debts. But the pressure was overwhelming. “I thought he was turning things around, but he was quietly suffering,” says Mina.

Laurence returned to the racetrack and got further in debt. That’s when Mina found herself about to lose her home, afraid to tell her family and friends what was happening.

“My mother would say that this was something we needed to deal with privately and alone,” says Mina. “I think when I left my house that morning, it was my way of asking for help. A stranger saw that I was in trouble and helped me check into the hospital.” From there, Mina found emergency shelter.

Mina slowly got her life back together and Laurence returned home. When she opened up to family about her husband’s gambling problem, Mina realized she wasn’t alone. In fact, her sister-in-law knew somebody with a gambling problem and helped connect Mina with resources in the Chinese Canadian community.

Mina’s counsellor provided assistance and treatment in her first language and had an understanding of her cultural background. Mina and Laurence attended couples’ therapy and, later, Laurence joined a treatment group for gamblers and Mina joined a support group for families.

“I would tell anybody in my situation that there is help available, you aren’t alone,” says Mina. “You don’t need to suffer by yourself. There are professional people who understand and can help.”


Mina's story
When she opened up to family about her husband’s gambling problem, Mina realized she wasn’t alone.

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