Women's anti-violence programme launched by Maataa Waka in Marlborough

A Blenheim woman says the best part of the new Maataa Waka course is meeting other people who have been through similar ...
DEREK FLYNN/FAIRFAX NZ

A Blenheim woman says the best part of the new Maataa Waka course is meeting other people who have been through similar experiences.

A course for Marlborough women with abusive partners has revealed some of them are being pushed to the point of fighting back.

Maataa Waka has launched an anger management course for women with domestic violence at home, and while the course is aimed at keeping victims safe, it also teaches women how to manage their own anger.

Course co-ordinator Maria Tahau said anger was a common response for people in a violent relationship.

"When someone has been a victim - and it doesn't have to be women, this can happen to anybody - they can easily start to become a perpetrator as well," Tahau said.

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"In the course we help them understand where that anger is coming from. Basically, it's a second emotion. The first emotions are feeling frustrated, feeling alone and feeling isolated," Tahau said.

"So we're showing them a different path."

Tahau said the rising number of women seeking help with their own anger issues was likely due to increased awareness about mental health and that it was OK to ask for help.

The women's course, Mauri Tu Mauri Ora o Nga Wahine, was piloted in December and high demand prompted the organisation to start its second eight-week course this year.

Maataa Waka general manager Gail MacDonald said there were about 12 women registered for the course.

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"It's just getting a better understanding around what is violence, what can trigger it, how to manage yourself, how to keep safe, and building self-esteem," MacDonald said.

"It's the same with the men's programme. Some of the men in our Stopping Violence programme, they're not necessarily violent but some are very angry because of what's happened to them in their life, and it might be that someone else is actually creating their anger."

Some women taking Tahau's course were victims recovering from violence in a past relationship.

A Blenheim woman, who would not be named, was kicked and punched by a former partner.

The 28-year-old's children were taken away by Child Youth and Family because they witnessed a lot of her former partner's violence, she said.

"I felt like a failure as a mum," she said.

"I'm determined to prove to everyone that I can be a good mum."

The best part of the course was the other people in the group, she said.

"When we first started, we'd tell our stories about what kind of abuse we'd gone through. Now, it's about getting from that dark place to a brighter place. We've all gone through really similar stuff.

"I've learnt to speak up and share my feelings, and ask for help when I need it. I've come out of my shell."

​She had even made friends with some of the women and they would catch up during the week, she said.

If registrations for the group continued to grow, another course to run simultaneously could be launched to keep the group small, MacDonald said.

 - The Marlborough Express

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