Genesis House program aims to break cycle of abuse

Genesis House is hoping their new initiative, the Caring Dads program, will help men get help and reduce abuse.

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A new program in the area is hoping to break the cycle of domestic abuse by providing intervention for men.

Genesis House is launching the Caring Dads Program in October in Morden, targeting men in the community who have abused, neglected or exposed their children to domestic violence and who want to address the issue and end the cycle of violence.

Genesis House Executive Director Angela Braun said women who have used the shelter over the years have expressed a desire for the abuse to stop, but not necessarily for the relationship to end.

“What we in our work see is women going back many, many times to the same partner,” she said. “While she may have attended some programming and things like that, the flip side isn’t necessarily so for him. There hasn’t been historically much available for interventions with men.”

Braun said in the last few years, focusing on men has been on the upswing. “When there was some facilitators available in our area, we thought it makes sense and maybe we should try it,” she said. “If the women are asking for it, will their partners actually attend the program?”

“They’ve been saying it all along,” she added. “We just need to listen and see what might be available.”

As the program is voluntary, proof of its success will depend on whether or not men will sign up.

“I’m crossing my fingers that that is the case,” Braun said.

Braun said finding funding for the program was troublesome. “I’ve applied at numerous places for a grant around this,” she said. “One of the things that has motivated our agency and motivated us to really pursue this has been the statistics around intervention programs with men and the type of results they are getting.”

The program is being supported by a grant from the Morden Area Foundation through their Power of the Purse event. The event raised about $4,000 for the program.

Braun said Genesis House statistics about the women and children who use their services have remained mostly the same through the years. “The work that we are contracted by the province to do, we’re doing,” she said. “We’re keeping women safe and keeping their children safe in shelter, and we’re helping them with whatever choice they want to make.”

Braun said some mandated intervention programs have provided startling statistics. “Even when they’re forced to go to a mandated program, they’re finding that those same men will not reoffend for at least the two years that they’re followed after a mandated program.”

Braun is hoping that men who genuinely want to be in the program and get help will see positive results as well.

“When I heard that the reoffending rates were 30 per cent less… we need to at least try,” she said.

Genesis House’s mandate focuses on the women and children that pass through their doors, but Braun said they wouldn’t be serving them if they weren’t abused.

“If we could go down even further to the root of this, maybe we could see some real change,” she said. “It’s that whole thing of, ‘Hurt people hurt people.’ I’m not absolving anybody of their accountability or their actions, but if we’ve put something together that could make a difference, will people sign up? Will they try?”

Braun said the program won’t be a walk in the park. “The work for the people in the group will be intense,” she said. “The accountability will be also. There will be a certain level of courage required.”

“You have to be self-aware,” she added. “You have to be taking responsibility and accountability for your own actions, and you have to be ready to do some really, really hard work because it’s a 17-week program.”

The deadline to register for the program is Sept. 18. The program begins Oct. 3. For more information call 204-325-9800.

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