Women’s Crisis Services of Waterloo Region has a new chief executive officer. On Tuesday, April 10, 2018, the board of directors announced the appointment of Jennifer Hutton, who has been an outreach manager with the agency since 2012. She will begin in the new role on April 26.
Prior to working with Women’s Crisis Services, Hutton was employed at Grand River Hospital, where she held a number of positions, including clinical manager and social worker.
“Ms. Hutton is a creative problem solver and strategic thinker with demonstrated skill as a collaborative leader,” the board said in a statement.
The agency’s previous CEO, Mary Zilney, retired in March.
Women’s Crisis Services operates two emergency shelters for abused women and children in the region, and provides a variety of related programming.
perk Canada wrote an article about their fundraising event. Read it here.
By Alan Sharpe, CFRE
One of the biggest misconceptions and tragedies is society’s willingness to blame the victim of domestic abuse.
Today, April 3rd, is the International Day Against Victim Blaming, which helps to raise awareness for survivors of domestic violence (and other types of abuse) who are in some way blamed for what happened to them. We must place responsibility for the crimes on the offender, and stop blaming the victim.
Blaming the victim hinders them from accessing safety resources and support. Blaming the victim deters them from coming forward and reporting the abuse to authorities, or accessing services such as shelters and counsellors. Blaming the victim reinforces the abuser’s claims against his victim: that the domestic abuse was the victim’s fault.
Victims of domestic abuse should never be blamed for anything that happens to them. They should never be blamed for staying. “Why doesn’t she just leave him?” you may ask.
There are lots of reasons why a woman stays. Here are just a few….
- She loves the partner, not the violence
- She made a commitment she feels she can’t break
- She has nowhere else to go
- She has no money, or fears the poverty that may result for her and her children if she leaves
- Relatives and in-laws want her to stay
- She believes her partner can’t get along without her – he may have threatened suicide if she leaves
- She wants her children to grow up with their father
- She doesn’t have the confidence to believe she can make it on her own
- She believes her partner will change
- She is afraid or ashamed
- She feels guilty and believes the abuse is her fault
- She believes she deserves the abuse
- She’s afraid for her own and her children’s lives
Your financial support of Women’s Crisis Services helps women leave their abusers, find shelter, and move beyond violence. Please donate now.
By Alan Sharpe, CFRE
Fund Development Manager
Someone once said, “Those who look outside, dream. Those who look inside, awake.”
At Women’s Crisis Services of Waterloo Region, one of our jobs is to empower abused women by helping them “look inside.”
Understanding Me is a psycho-educational group that we offer to women at our two shelters, Anselma House in Kitchener and Haven House in Cambridge. Understanding Me helps women who have experienced violence in their interpersonal relationships.
Once a week for eight weeks, participants discuss anger, self-esteem, family of origin, why abuse happens, feelings of guilt and shame related to violence, healthy relationships, and the impact violence has on children.
Our Understanding Me group helps women talk about their struggles with abusive relationships in a supportive, non-judgemental, group environment. This process breaks down the barriers of silence and isolation often associated with violence within families. And it leads to individual healing for our women.
Gaining insight into how children are impacted by violence within families also helps our women improve their relationships with their children.
Understanding Me helps women move beyond violence and abuse, toward the ultimate goal of breaking the cycle of violence for future generations. As one of our workers puts it, “Understanding Me helps our women make decisions in which their head, heart and gut are all in agreement. Sometimes our heart says ‘yes’ while our head or gut says ‘no.'” The best and safest decisions we make are the ones where our head, heart and gut all agree that the decision is the one to make.”
What is meant by the “ME” in the Understanding Me program?
When women experience abuse from a partner or family member, it is like a toxin injected into the bloodstream and, if not stopped, the abuse insidiously permeates the mind, soul, and body of women , it gradually withers away at their core sense of self and identity, withers away at their level of confidence, trust, and self-worth.
It is common to hear women in the Understanding Me program say, “I lost myself; I don’t know who I am anymore; I can’t trust myself and don’t know who to trust; I’m not important.”
When women experience abuse from a partner or family member, and are regularly told, “It is your fault, you are responsible for what I did or said to you,” the searing, deep feelings are guilt and shame, self-doubt, fear and confusion. It is common to hear women in the Understanding Me program say “I believed that the reason I was yelled, called names, hit and punched is because I did something wrong; I was made to feel guilty, shamed, responsible, or there was something wrong with me.”
The Understanding Me program is a theme- based educational program that explores the thoughts, feelings, and concepts related to the experience of abuse in order to provide the knowledge and tools for women to navigate their journey of healing, and hope to re-build their lives, sense of self and identity.
The devastating layers of false beliefs, myths, painful emotions and fears that keep women stuck in an abusive relationship shift to a place of potential for change and growth through the exploration and discussion on concepts such as power and control, pattern of abuse, socio-cultural and economic factors, responsibility for abuse, self-esteem development and confidence-building tools.
When women hear and learn for the first time that they are not responsible for what has happened to them or that abuse is a learnt behaviour, a common initial response is one of “shock and disbelief” followed by a sense of relief, validation and acknowledgement of their experience.
Gradually, through the participation in the weekly sessions of the Understanding Me program, women begin to understand the “ME “ in the program, namely, that they can repair and rebuild their sense of self, they are and can be at the helm of living their lives in ways that reflect their core identity, beliefs, values and choices.
The task of processing the effects of abuse is an unbearably painful one. Key components often noted are women’s determination, empowerment and courage to spear ahead one painstakingly step at time. Women in the Understanding Me program come to a realization that they deserve better and it is possible to break away from abuse. The Understanding Me program provides the knowledge, validation, confidence-building and goal- setting tools to support women to choose and create the lives they want and into their future.
Your financial support of Women’s Crisis Services makes the Understanding Me program possible. Please donate now to help even more women to be empowered through understanding.