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Friendship centre’s abuse program to return in the fall

Friday July 25, 2014
Thunder Bay Indian Friendship Centre

While the Thunder Bay Indian Friendship Centre’s men’s abuse program, Kizhaay Anishinaabe Niin, has gotten attention from various places in Ontario, it’s the women’s program that are coming out from under the shadows.

The Anishinabe-Kwe program is aimed towards women who have been physical towards men and want to better themselves and their future, while keeping traditional teachings in the mix.

Barb Lysnes, Aboriginal Healing and Wellness Coordinator, says this is a place where women can channel their anger, and also honour it.

“Mostly with the women it’s a different approach. You should honour your anger, your anger is a gift and has a purpose. What you do with that anger is a choice,” said Lysnes.

The program, which has been running since 2007, is 13 weeks long and takes place once a week from Sept. 3 to Nov. 26.

The program helps women promote a healthy interaction and plenty of support from each other.

“They get a lot of support from each other. They really thank each other at the end, they feel not alone, not weird. They feel like they’re human beings and they’re trying to figure it out together,” said Lysnes.

Not only does this benefit for the mental well being of women, it can also help once they’ve graduated from the program.

“If they go through the early intervention program, their charge, if they plead guilty and admit to it, at the end of the program, they will often have their charges withdrawn. They can emerge from this program without a criminal record,” said Lysnes.

They have even teamed up with Thunderstone Pictures to produce visual pieces of women dealing with abuse in a better way. They attempted showing videos of men using violence, but it ultimately traumatized the women.

Even though domestic abuse is the main reason for women joining the program, it’s not the only type of abuse they cover.

“We do talk about cyber bullying, using kids. It’s all about power control. We talk about sexual violence as well as physical and all different kinds, such as economic abuse,” said Lysnes.

They also focus on the healthy behaviours such as how to build trust and support, role-playing, anger management skills, and more.

The program isn’t just for women that have broken the law, it’s open for anyone interested but on one condition: you have to admit you’ve done physical violence.

“It doesn’t work when someone is there not willing to admit they’ve done that,” said Lysnes.
If interested in attending this program, contact Barb Lysnes at the Thunder Bay Indian Friendship Centre.

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