A group of brave women are now more educated and empowered to leave domestic violence relationships after recently completing an eight-week women’s domestic violence education and support group.
Run by Moree Family Support’s Staying Home Leaving Violence (SHLV) program, in partnership with Ngala Women’s Refuge, the support group aims to educate and empower women to understand domestic violence and its effects on themselves and their children.
Throughout the eight weeks, various topics were covered including what is domestic violence, child protection, detecting and confronting gaslighting, healthy relationships, healing my self-worth and self-image, effects of domestic violence on children, accessing local services and anger management.
“We talked about what is domestic violence; unfortunately some of them don’t realise they’re in a domestic violence relationship,” SHLV case manager Carol French said.
“And it may not always be intimate partner violence, it could be family violence.
“The program also involves education about local services and what support is out there.”
Ten women started this year’s program, with eight completing it.
Although it’s a difficult topic to discuss, SHLV case manager Michelle Tansey said the women gain a lot from opening up.
She said the best part is the support the women provide for each other.
“For some it will take a couple of times to come before they feel comfortable opening up,” Ms Tansey said.
“It takes a lot of trust. Women in these circumstances often tend to distrust their environment.
“That’s why we’re doing it, to give them awareness and empowerment.
“The difficulties are that it’s a sensitive topic and quite confronting for women to come into a program which is completely around being a victim of violence.
“It’s a big step.
“We definitely found they really connect with each other. They became each other’s support. Friendships are made which increases the community support for each other and empowers them to make change for themselves and their children.”
As well as providing information about domestic violence and where to seek help, the program also promotes self-esteem and self-worth, and so at the end of the eight weeks, the women enjoyed getting their hair done and went out for lunch together.
In the past there has also been activities around relaxation and mindfulness.
The program has been running each year for many years, having evolved over that time.
“Overall the feedback has been really good,” Ms Tansey said.
“They find it difficult to leave at the end. They form support with each other and it’s something they enjoy coming to.”
The next support group will run next financial year. If you would like to be involved, contact Moree Family Support on 6752 4536. Moree Family Support also take referrals from other services.