Fay E Pouesi, (Ngati Ruanui, Ngaruahinerangi, Te Atiawa, and Pakeha) was awarded a Community Research New and Emerging Researcher Award in 2010 for her research,Te Puawaitanga O Te Ngakau: A Case Study of Westside Counselling Services in West Auckland. She presented alongside four other new and emerging researchers, who were drawn by application process, at the 2010 Community Research Seminar.
Fay has since completed the paper and it can be found on our site here. We talk to Fay about how she got to where she is, how winning the award helped her and what her next steps are.
How did you get to where you are?
My experience of living with severe domestic violence for many years took me through a healing process that provided me with immeasurable insight, understanding and knowledge of how repeated acts of violence infringe a person’s spirit and violates the absolute essence of who she is. My personal journey out of such brutality has also informed me of the care needed in order for healing to take place. It set me on a path to study and graduate as a counsellor and group facilitator working with women from similar backgrounds.
After graduating from my Diploma in 1997, I facilitated Domestic Violence groups and counselled women in violence at a women’s centre and as well worked as a Maori intern in an abuse and trauma counselling service. In early 2000 I was approached by a businessman who offered me financial support to follow my heart, which was to work with women whose lives were immersed in violence.
In June 2000 with the support and aroha of Massey Community Church and the financial support from the businessman, Westside Counselling Services was established and for the past ten years, up until 2011 I worked with a high proportion of women from gang backgrounds many of whom were Maori. These women have come from lifelong abuse. Their childhoods have been immersed in either sexual or physical abuse and most of them have grown up in families where violence between their parents or caregivers was rampant.
Many of the women who accessed Westside Counselling Service over the ten years between 2000 and 2011 turned their lives around and went on to study. Some have graduated as teachers, nurses, social workers; others are still studying and experiencing violent free lives with their partners and children.
Most significant moment in your career?
I think my most significant achievement to date has been graduating with a MSocP (Master of Social Policy). I am still blown away that I graduated. I had very little schooling due to sickness and my inability to learn which was tied up with historical childhood abuse caused me to leave school a few months into the third form. I could hardly read, I didn’t know many words, or how to formulate sentences. I sure didn’t know how to write assignments and I think about that today and I’m blown away.
No one can ever say that you can’t, it’s a lie, and it robs you of reaching your potential.
We all have potential, we were born with it. And we all have the ability to achieve. I have witnessed it in the women I have worked alongside. Women who have been immersed in all forms of abuse and violence, addictions and bad behaviours, who were told they will never change, they will always be useless. I have watched them turn their lives and their children’s lives around. I have had the pleasure of attending some of their graduations and witnessing healing in them.
Another significant moment for me was receiving the 2010 Community Research award (for New and Emerging Researchers).
I was so blown away by that. When you come from such a place of brokenness as I did I was so anxious about the whole process; but the team down there really supported me and gave me a huge amount of awhi. They have no idea the impact they had on me. My experience of going down to Wellington for the Seminar and being awhi’d like that gave me the confidence to stay with the process.
What’s next for you?
In 2012 I graduated with a MSocP (Master of Social Policy) with honours and have spent time since then contemplating where to from here. I was fortunate to obtain a contract to deliver my living free from violence programme which ended in September 2012 with really good results for the women attending.
Currently I am operating a small private practice in West Auckland with the hope of obtaining a few contracts for my living free from violence programme this year.
For me to do what I want to do, which is working in the field of Domestic Violence, establishing Te Puawaitanga O Te Ngakau (my research) for men, women and youth, I need funding and unfortunately, that is not easy to come by in this country.