Refuge opens doors to men

EMMA BAILEY
Last updated 05:29 23/03/2013

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The South Canterbury Women's Refuge is branching out - it wants to help men as well.

The refuge has advertised for an advocate who will "help male victims and offenders of family domestic violence".

Manager Dawn Rangi-Smith said the successful candidate would also help facilitate courses for young men and women about domestic violence.

"For years and years, women have told us they don't want to leave the [violent] relationship, so we need to work with the partner as well and make it a safe and healthy family unit and teach them how to respond in a healthy way. Nationally, the push has been to work with the whole family, not just the victims.

"We have to look at the cause and effect of the violence, and often it is drugs and alcohol that are the issue."

The number of violent women had increased, she said.

"We have dealt with a few young women who are the perpetrators [of violence]. We need to have support available for male victims as well."

Previously the refuge had only worked with women and while they went home "empowered", the man's behaviour had not changed.

"The mother may be good but the father needs some help as well, this way they are all on the same playing field and it helps us work towards a violence-free society."

Education courses were run for children aged between 5 and 13 and young adults from 13 to 19 as well as offering counselling to the mother, so it made sense to cater for the men, too, she said.

"Bob Katene and Steve Wills from the Timaru police have been coming along to some of the courses and that has worked really well, having a healthy male role model.

"We often get police reports that come through for low level or first time offenders and if we can get to them early we can help these young men and women and give them guidance and teach them how to deal with their anger."

The counselling and courses run alongside the refuge's baseline work of providing a safe house for victims of domestic violence. The refuge looks after women from Oamaru in the south to Ashburton and inland to Twizel.

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