Safe at Home, a four-year pilot project located in Claresholm that opened its doors in March 2021, is a first-of-its-kind program in a rural setting that helps tackle the problems of domestic abuse and violence.
“The program tends to end the cycle of violence and the way we do that is a bit different, innovative – different from the other programs available currently,” says Nara Fedozzi, Safe at Home Program Director.
“The reason why I say that is historically most of the programs are working with folks who are fleeing domestic violence, so they provide a shelter and then a range of programs and support. What we do with Safe at Home is we actually provide transitional housing and a range of services and supports for men with a history of abusing partners.”
The program works in three main phases.
The first phase of the program includes transitional housing and psychoeducation sessions related to domestic abuse.
“We really focus with men on taking responsibility for unhealthy and abusive behaviour,” says Fedozzi of the first phase, which is a minimum of four weeks and covers two of its eight topics each week. Case management is also offered.
“Any basic needs, any individual needs that they may have, we work with them in goal planning. It’s really a safe place where they can come to us and talk about some things that are not working well. A lot of our clients who will come to the program have actually heard about it from their partners, so they really want to make a change. They have an idea that there’s a problem there but don’t have an idea about the extent of the problem.
“If they don’t learn the skills, they are not going to change and are going to keep perpetrating the abuse over and over. Even if their relationship has ended, they are going to move on to another relationship and it’s going to continue to be perpetrated.”
During their stay with Safe at Home, men are either working towards returning to the family residence or acquiring housing for independent living.
The program operates with a mix of transitional housing, which can house up to two residents at a time, and community-based services.
The second phase of the program, which takes place over 10 weeks, includes weekly group psychoeducation sessions, in addition to monthly individual psychoeducation, life skills or case management sessions.
The third phase is an aftercare program that is completed over a period of eight months. The aftercare program consists of one peer support-facilitated group session each month and monthly individual psychoeducation, life skills or case management sessions.
“The feedback we have received from clients has been really positive. A lot of the feedback is that this is the first time they were able to have a safe space to stay. For many, it’s an opportunity to remove themselves from a very volatile situation and really focus on learning some of those skills towards a healthy relationship,” says Fedozzi.
“The other portion of the program is working with the entire family with a holistic approach. While Safe at Home focuses primarily on working with individuals with a history of abusive behaviour, we do have a partnership with the Rowan House and they actually work with the partners and the affected family. Our top priority is the safety of the whole family by providing them with tools for healing.”
“The group helped quite a bit; it really helped connect me with other men with similar issues. My self-awareness changed, and I am more aware of what I’m doing and being able to manage situations in a calm state,” reads a testimonial from a past Safe at Home participant.
“Really, my expectation was just to find a little bit of root cause of me not being able to stay calm in my situation and deal with anger. I definitely am better able to deal with my anger now. The opportunity to stay in the house was quite important because I needed to deal with my anger issue and did not have any resources to stay in the community while doing so.”
If you or someone you know is struggling and needs help with family violence or abuse, call the Men & helpline or the 24-hour Connect Family Violence Line. More information about the Safe at Home program can be found here.