Violence stops at HATS

The "I can" empowerment women's group counselling program comes to Hope.

The 'I can' empowerment program is a new pilot women's group counselling opportunity that offers free services to women in Hope.

The Hope and Area Transition Society has created a stopping the violence counselling program called “I can” empowerment for women, which is a spin-off of their stopping the violence program.

A presentation is scheduled to be given by Program Facilitator Maureen Hickey to women who are interested in learning more about the counselling opportunities, provided by the new program at HATS on Thursday, June 4th.

“My mascot is based on the little engine that could,” she told The Hope Standard. It’s about having the right approach and attitude about life, according to the counselling expert from Cultus Lake.

The program offers support to women who are experiencing, or have experienced some type of abuse (emotional, physical and/or sexual) during, or chronically throughout their lives.

After surviving a troubled childhood that was marked by abuse, Maureen, realized by reaching out to others that she was not alone with her internal struggles of poor self-esteem, self-acceptance and feelings of self-worth.

It was in her passion to help others, and to reconcile a painfully challenging history that she decided to move forward and pursue a Bachelor’s in Child and Youth Care, followed by a Masters in Psychology from UBC.

Her initial desire to work with children on a fundamental level and to reach them early on to help build those self-esteem blocks, quickly urged her forward to continue studies in psychology with the dream of helping others.

Maureen seeks to reach the moms out there through her work, as they primarily have the most influence over the development of young children. When a strong infrastructure of support is in place for mother’s — that will automatically trickle down to her children, according to the accomplished psychologist.

“If the mom is strong and empowered — she will pass that on to her children,” said Hickey on her advice toward healthy child rearing. “It’s a about a healthy support system, if that’s in place, you naturally do better.”

A self-descriptive guru of groups, Maureen advocates a sharing environment with others to help facilitate the healing process and to learn coping mechanisms for certain behaviours associated with individual issues.

“I want people to feel safe and to know that they’re not alone,” she said.

Maureen’s goal is to foster a space that women can come to and be encouraged. If a person or child, whether it be parental or spousal abuse, is continuously berated on a physical or emotional level, it can start to enforce the notion that the child/person is bad, and they start to develop their self image based on that mirror.

“It’s about separating those feelings, and traumas from the identity of the person.” she said.

The “I can” empowerment group is all about finding the tools and resources to move forward in a strong way — women empowering women to heal, find their voices and acknowledge that they have a right to be heard and valued, which can be a difficult concept for some to grasp, especially if childhood patterns were installed during those tough formative years.

“People say get over it, but it’s a process,” she said.

It’s an open door policy, free of charge, in a non-judgmental environment and sponsored by the Ministry of Justice, which means any woman 19 years of age or above can access the service, unless they are a teenager who meets the mature (adult lifestyle) requirements of the program.

“People can come when they want and leave when they’re ready.”

It’s about changing behaviours and imparting the idea of consequences to actions, as opposed to self-imposed punishment, of “I’m a bad person because I behaved this way,” which enforces a negative self-image.

“It’s about figuring out how to make those changes, based on outcomes, which helps emopower the individual,” said Maureen.

An opportunity to meet Maureen, the new STV counsellor and to hear more about the individual and new group programs offered by HATS, takes place from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at their location, Unit H-895 3rd Avenue. A light lunch will be included. The presentation will involve a DVD “It’s not like I hit her,” which touches on the topic of psychological and emotional abuse and a formal discussion, incorporating mandates such as acceptance, safety and support.

For more information about the program, or to register, please contact Maureen at 604-869-5111 ext 226. The “I can” program will officially be starting on Thursday, June 11th from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m.

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