A new peer support group for men who have been exposed to abuse will be established in Warkworth from June 4, if they are able to find a community space.
Better Blokes needs the space to hold its peer support sessions every Tuesday evening, as well as face-to-face sessions during the day. North facilitator Philipe Eyton says the new branch is being established in response to needs expressed by police and GPs in northern Rodney.
“The area doesn’t have courses for men living with trauma, and the feedback has been that men have been unable to access services in Auckland because of the distance,” he says.
Philipe says Better Blokes wants to hear from any man, or their partner, who may have experienced one of five types of abuse – physical, sexual, verbal, emotional and psychological.
“A man may not even be aware he has been abused or that it has had such a huge effect on his life.
Signs include anger, sabotaging of relationships with partners and family, or frequent job changes in an endless search for meaning,” Philipe says.
When a man makes contact or is referred to Better Blokes by a GP, a facilitator will work with them to identify their strengths as well as their goals and then come up with a plan on how to achieve them.
“We use a ‘strengths-based’ approach, which is about working on self-esteem. One of the huge consequences of abuse is low self-worth, and as a result we get good at sabotaging our lives and others around us.”
Philipe was an electronics engineer by trade and worked in medical electronics, before realising that it was helping people and working with frontline medical staff that drove him.
“After 30 years in the field, I decided to retrain in social practice and work with people who have suffered from sexual abuse because of my own background.”
He grew up in Omaha Flats and went to primary school in Matakana before his family moved to Auckland.
Better Blokes has signed up two new facilitators from the Rodney area for the new Warkworth branch and is still looking for more who want to be trained in Auckland in peer support.
Philipe says peer support differs from traditional counselling in that facilitators are not only allowed to self-disclose and share from their own experiences, they are actually encouraged to do so.