Lighthouse Shelter refocuses weekly support meetings

Friday, January 31, 2003

The Lighthouse Shelter in Marshall is making a more concentrated effort to help women attending its weekly support group.

From about 6 to 8 p.m. each Thursday at the outreach office located at 456 W. North Street, women can gather in the meeting room to receive assistance and encouragement from each other and group leader Rachael Woodring.

Victim advocate for the Lighthouse, Woodring said the primary focus of the group is to help women through the healing process, whether they are the victim, friend or relative of the victim or someone who may be feeling threatened by a relationship or situation in which they need help, or help getting away from.

A support group had been meeting before, but, as Woodring said, it was more of an open discussion time rather than a time to cover specific topics.

"Now we're focusing on helping women through the healing process, if they've suffered from sexual, emotional or physical abuse, and that could be in childhood or adulthood," Woodring said. "We'll focus on the recovery from that, not just on those incidents that happened, but on where to go from here."

Some of the topics covered during the meetings will include assertiveness, self-management, self-advocacy and problem solving.

"Women sometimes don't realize that the abuse that has happened to them in the past is connected to how they feel about themselves now," she said. "Self-advocacy will be a goal one week because the people that come to the group need to know how to get what they want for themselves on their own, independently."

Lighthouse Executive Director Debbie Wallace said the weekly objectives will serve as a guide for the discussion, but other questions and topics of interest will be invited as a means for coming up with new goals and topics for future meetings. The meetings also open doors for people who have never received services from the Lighthouse, she said.

"It's a first contact for someone looking to get out of a situation, and what I really like about it, for one thing, is that it's free and open to the public," Wallace added. "But it does give people an opportunity to learn about some of the other free services we provide."

On average, the group usually involves about eight people but the meetings are open to anyone interested and those who attend should not feel obligated to come every time, Woodring said. For mothers with children, the Lighthouse also provides a children's group time on Thursday nights where Children's Program Coordinator Richell Roberts and other workers provide games, snacks, learning activities and their own special meeting time at the Lighthouse shelter with children of all ages. The children's group is also free and is a benefit for mothers who wouldn't be able to afford a baby-sitter or other type of child care while they attend the support group meeting.

The Lighthouse Shelter support group is funded through grants and the local United Way. For more information about the meetings or other Lighthouse services, call (660) 831-0988.

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