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The Northern John Howard Society of BC works with men and women who’ve been subject to domestic violence, or are in the criminal justice system as an offender.

To lend a helping hand, the BC Government is funding $60,000 for the society’s Stop Taking it Out on your Partner (S.T.O.P.) program in an effort to reduce the issue.

Executive Director Wayne Hughes says the money will help stop domestic abuse earlier.

“We now have access to a website that has blogging, discussions, and a community where we can start talking about domestic violence, we can talk about ways to facilitate, we can talk about the different experiences that are facilitators have had, and that we can be open to different ideas.”

In addition to a brand new, updated website, Hughes says the Prince George base will be able to hire more facilitators of both genders.

 

 
 

 

He adds the program gets booked up months in advance due to the overwhelming number of people seeking help and support.

“For us, that’s a concern because if somebody walks through the door and first decides they have an issue, which is a big deal, and they’re having issues with anger right away, it’s difficult to say for them to come back in a month and a half. It’s something we want to address immediately.”

Hughes stresses for people who’ve been on either end of domestic violence, it’s important to address these issues privately, regardless if the problem is within family or friends.

“Talking about domestic violence isn’t something you talk about with your buddies at the construction site, it’s not something you talk about with your buddies at the bar, it is something you need to talk about in a safe environment. I think that’s what S.T.O.P. at the very least provides as a very safe environment for these individuals.”

Prince George serves as the main hub for this funding; S.T.O.P programs in Vancouver, Kamloops, and Campbell River will also receive money for their programs.

The announcement is part of a province-wide $660,000 donation for 11 non-for-profit community organizations that deliver domestic violence prevention programs.

The Northern John Howard Society will receive $60,000 from the provincial government to train more facilitators to deliver a domestic violence prevention program.

Stop Taking it Out on Your Partner (STOP) is open to everyone, not just those who've committed a crime and it has been drawing enough interest to create waiting lists.

"It seems to come in waves, but consistently there almost seems to be an over-demand," NJHS executive director Wayne Hughes said Friday during a media event to announce the funding.

He said the versions focused on couples and one-on-one counselling are booked two to three months in advance.

"For us that's a concern because if somebody walks through the door... and they're having anger issues right away, it's difficult to say to them, come back in a month and a half."

In addition to Prince George, NJHS is responsible for delivering STOP in Kamloops, Vancouver and Campbell River and the money will also be used to train facilitators in those communities.

A further $600,000 is going to 10 other groups delivering a different program.

There is also a group program - capped at 17 people and delivered three times a year - that consists of eight units, meeting once a week over 14 weeks.

A version exclusively for women is also available.

STOP works on such issues as dealing with anger and identifying triggers, the relationship between fear and anger, self esteem, toxic shame, respectful and effective communication and even tips on having fun in relationships.

Hughes issued a sobering warning about what it won't do: "One of the first things we tell our men in our group is that if you've come here to save your marriage, leave," he said. "Because the point of this program is not to save your marriage, the point of this program is for you to learn skills so that you are a better communicator, you understand your emotions, you can control your anger and you have these tools to become a better person."

In other words, a tough decision may still be in store.

"By the end of this, you might discover you're in a toxic relationship and you maybe need to leave the relationship."

In announcing the funding, Prince George-Mackenzie MLA Mike Morris said his parents separated when he was young over the very issues STOP is trying to tackle.

"It's something that's very near and dear to me," he said.

The money will also be used to pay the facilitators once trained and to augment the STOP website and pay for materials.

A timeline was not provided on when the new facilitators will be in place.

 
 


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President of John Howard Society of Northern B.C, and B.C. Darlene Kavka,  Minister  Morris, Facilitators Lisa Loewen and Wayne Hughes – photo 250News

Prince George, B.C. – The John Howard Society  in Prince George has received $60 thousand dollars from the Province  for its STOP (Stop Taking it Out on your Partner) program  that aims to be proactive  in  reducing domestic violence.

“What I liked about this particular program is  you don’t have to be in jail, you don’t have to be convicted, or incarcerated,  this is open to anybody who wants to change their life   and their lifestyle and come to grips  with how  they  treat other  people  their partners, or spouses” says  Solicitor General Mike Morris.

Morris says he would like to see the program  carried out in the province, “In a much bigger fashion  than what we see today, and  hopefully it will.”

Program facilitator  Wayne Hughes  says the  program  offers tools  for those who want to  learn how to deal with and manage their anger issues. The dollars will  be used to train facilitators in Prince George,  Kamloops, Vancouver and Campbell River . Hughes says  the program  which has been operational for  two decades,  is open to anyone  who  wants help   “Over the past couple of years we’ve revamped the program to make it updated.”  The updating  includes  increased use of video and reductions in text  in  an effort to address literacy issues  among those  seeking  help.

The core  of the program   focuses  on four  issues  says Hughes ” The core principles  deal with emotional control,   communication, they deal with self  esteem and overlying  all of that,  they deal with accountability.  The individuals  who are involved in domestic violence are always held accountable  for their actions and  choosing  violence is always a choice. ”

“We can no longer look at things in isolation,  within the silos” says Morris “It’s a multi ministerial  responsibility to  address  domestic violence, to address mental health and addictions  and these other social ills that bring  our society down.. I think we are going to see some pretty interesting things coming out of government  in the next while to  address those kinds of things.”

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