We women matter, feminist co-facilitation of a mutual aid group for survivors of woman abuse within a second stage shelter

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Seymour, Lisa
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This practicum involved a groupwork intervention with battered women. The group was located within a second stage shelter in Winnipeg, Manitoba where all the group members were residing after leaving abusive male partners. The model used was a mutual aid group with a closed membership, co-facilitated from a feminist perspective. While the group met for two hour sessions on a twice weekly basis for ten months, this practicum covered the first portion, from September until late December, 1989. Three methods were used to evaluate the practicum. (1) Critical Incident Reports were periodically gathered at the end of sessions. They provided valuable feedback regarding the participants' perceptions of what was most significant about particular sessions. (2) The results of a single system design, using Hudson's standardised measures, Index of Self Esteem and Generalised Contentment Scale, indicated that generally the members' levels of self esteem increased while depression decreased. (3) The results of the administration of Consumer Satisfaction Questionnaires indicated that the members generally felt satisfied with, and benefited from their group participation. A structured agenda and various exercises used in the group helped to build mutual aid and raised members' consciousness regarding woman abuse. The group helped to reduce the secrecy, shame and isolation associated with battering and separation. The context of the residential setting made it convenient for the members to establish a network of protection, emotional support and practical assistance outside of the group sessions. The solidarity established among the participants extended beyond the group as they initiated social actions to protect and empower other women outside of their group. Implications for social work, and recommendations for further work are suggested.