Women’s discussion group launched

The Atikokan Crisis Centre, in conjunction with Riverside Community Counselling Services here, has launched a monthly women’s discussion group to give women a chance to learn about issues of violence and how to break the cycle.
“We’re excited we’re finally able to do this,” said Donna Kroocmo, executive director of the Atikokan Crisis Centre.
She noted one of the purposes of the group was to dispel some myths and misinformation about the crisis centre and what it does.
“The women in Fort Frances and west to Rainy River are underserviced,” Kroocmo said. “They often don’t realize we service them, as well. They go to Kenora for help.”
The group held its first meeting at Riverside Community Counselling Services here Saturday, where Susan Hanson, a transitional support worker, helped clarify some myths about the crisis centre.
Among the misconceptions were the belief that women must be brought to the shelter by police, that they must have physical evidence of abuse (such as cuts and bruises), and that they only can access the shelter’s services a limited number of times.
In reality, women who wish to access the crisis centre can come on their own, or ask the centre to pick them up, Hanson explained.
Women do not need to show evidence of physical abuse because abuse can be invisible, including using intimidation, isolation, coercion, and threats. And women age 16 and over may access the shelter as many times as they need to, Hanson added.
The crisis centre also provides advocacy services for women who want support when dealing with a doctor, lawyer, the courts, or government offices.
It offers both a 10-bed emergency shelter and New Horizons Second Stage Housing—a 10-unit apartment building for women and their children who have left abusive relationships.
Sharlene Beninger, a family violence counsellor with Riverside Community Counselling Services, also was on hand for Saturday’s meeting and spoke about one of their programs for children who have witnessed abuse.
The children are grouped according to their age, and they talk about issues such as self-esteem and anger management. “It’s a really nice program,” said Beninger.
The program has run for the last two years and she hopes to be able to run it again this year—if enough children are referred.
“It depends on what comes in as far as numbers this year,” she explained.
The program runs 10-12 weeks, and includes a free meal for the kids.
While only one woman attended the discussion group Saturday, Hanson said they hope to draw more out each month. She said they may view a film next month, followed by a discussion.
Each meeting will focus on a different topic, selected by the participants.
The next meeting will be held Saturday, Oct. 16 at 2 p.m. at Riverside Community Counselling Services (206 Victoria Ave.)