Last week I continued shadowing and observing different parts of Tres Manuelas in the mornings, then working in afterschool children’s program in the afternoon. One of the mornings I shadowed one of the psychologists who had begun a support group for abusers of domestic violence. The group is voluntary, and the clients cannot be substance abusers, nor have mental health problems. The psychologist is hoping for the next steps of the program to be to incorporate both the women and children of the family into the program so they can begin and learn to accept a new way of life with the abuser. He also said that the women of the abusers often retaliate and become abusers themselves, although it is usually not as severe. The program was centered on the abuser accepting past victimization, but also not condoning their actions. The abusers learn new ways to handle their emotions, watch and discuss videos, redefine what it is to be a man, and recognize existing stereotypes and stigmas. A new support group will begin at the end of this week, but he did not anticipate it starting as soon as hoped because the potential clients they had contacted had not responded. He explained how it is necessary for it to be voluntary, but that many abusers do not feel there is a problem, and in the past, they have come because of filed reports from their spouse. I asked about if there were programs for men in jail who are abusers, but he said that they do not exist, but there are other organizations outside of Tres Manuelas who offer services for abusers. Being able to talk with the psychologist made me feel a little more prepared as a social worker. With the exception of jail programs, and the absence of existing mental health issues, his program outlined many that I learned about in my domestic violence class.
In the children’s program they have short lessons about Ecuador’s rights that children have, games, workshops, homework help, and one of the doctors also comes in and gives the kids nutritional supplements. They also have weekly workshops to build the children’s self esteem. This past week, they had to look in a mirror and write down their physical qualities, then write down what type of a person they are. They then took turns standing in front of the group and pointed out each other’s qualities. One of the women I work with then shared how the children can change what type of person they are, but how they look is unique and special to each child. Many of the children come to me and ask for help on their homework; usually they do not actually have questions, they are just looking for someone to encourage them to keep going. Especially the little ones just need someone to tell what great handwriting they have, or how fast they’re completing their assignment. I have loved seeing their proud smiles when they finish and then go and show everyone what they did.