Trauma practitioner Michele Smith and Langford resident Sharon Martin are launching Aaron’s Society, a non-profit that aims to provide peer support for people dealing with trauma. (Rick Stiebel/News Staff)

Trauma practitioner Michele Smith and Langford resident Sharon Martin are launching Aaron’s Society, a non-profit that aims to provide peer support for people dealing with trauma. (Rick Stiebel/News Staff)

Trauma sufferers support group takes shape on West Shore

Aaron’s Society open to more peer support groups with certified trauma practitioners

Rick Stiebel

News Staff

Sharon Martin is living proof that although the devastating effects of trauma can remain long after the event that triggered them, there is help available.

When her husband took his own life in 2002, Martin didn’t know where to turn for help.

“The first two weeks when David was missing were the worst two weeks of my life,” said Martin, a Langford resident and long-time City employee. “It broke me to the point where I was on the brink of taking my own life. I had a friend who wouldn’t leave so I didn’t go through with it, but I was never able to deal with the trauma and move on. I thought I was dealing with depression, but I was 14, 15 years into this, and I’m thinking I’m still angry, difficult to live with and difficult to work with.”

That finally changed dramatically four years ago after Martin responded to an ad in the Goldstream Gazette about a support group for suicide survivors organized by Michele Smith, a certified trauma practitioner. After calling up and explaining her circumstances, Martin attended a meeting.

READ ALSO: Doctors aims to scale up youth suicide prevention program across Canada

“I had my doubts at first, but by the second meeting it was like an epiphany. I didn’t realize how much of what I was dealing with was anger. I felt like the weight of the world had been taken off my shoulders, like I got a new lease on life. The world was okay again. Michele glued me back together.”

Although Smith has been helping people deal with grief for 25 years, it wasn’t until she suffered an acute unexpected traumatic experience that she realized how little support was available.

“My son Aaron died tragically 10 years ago,” Smith said. “Even with my background in grief recovery, I realized there’s a segment of the population dealing with issues such as childhood sexual abuse or any type of abuse, for that matter, suicide, homicide, natural disasters, betrayal of trust, community violence. There’s a whole range of people dealing with issues who weren’t getting the specialized help they need. There’s very limited knowledge of trauma treatment, and those with the training typically charge $130 to $150 an hour.”

That inspired Smith to acquire her level 1 and level 2 certification as a trauma practitioner, and she is close to completing her clinical traumatologist certification. She began working on launching Aaron’s Society, a registered non-profit in the process of obtaining charitable status. Aaron’s Society will provide peer group support for people throughout the Capital Region. Smith has been working on this for the past four years, and expects to begin sessions in January.

READ ALSO: Victoria woman wins court battle to keep job title of ‘death midwife’

“There could be as many as five groups, depending on the response, Smith explained. “We’ll run specific groups to deal with specific causal factors.”

Each peer support group will work with a level 1 certified trauma practitioner. “We already have three people who volunteered and are taking the course,” she noted. “The charge will be by donation.”

Martin, who is vice-president of the board for Aaron’s Society, is one of the three volunteers completing the course.

“When I approached Sharon about helping out, she said ‘yes’ before the words were out of my mouth,” Smith said with a laugh.

“It’s always been my goal to help other people to deal with what I went through, but I couldn’t do that because of what I was going through myself.” Martin said. “I can now, thanks to Michele.”

While a couple of churches have made meeting space available, Smith would like to eventually find a central, permanent location. Funding for materials needed for the peer groups is a challenge at this point as well.

For more information on the support groups or to offer meeting space or make a donation, visit traumapractitioner.com and click on the link to Aaron’s Society.

rick.stiebel@goldstreamgazette.com

mental health

Just Posted

Two volunteers work to sieve a sample of sand and ocean water through a filter, capturing any potential microplastics. (Courtesy of Ocean Diagnostics)
Victoria startup making waves in microplastics research

New products from Ocean Diagnostics will make research faster, more affordable

Island Savings kick-starts the Equipped to Heal campaign with $120,000. (Courtesy Victoria Hospitals Foundation)
Latest Victoria Hospitals Foundation campaign targets $1M for mental health

Goal is to outfit new 19-bed unit at Eric Martin Pavilion

Willows Beach in Oak Bay. (Black Press Media file photo)
Seven days of sun set to shine on Greater Victoria

Special weather statement warns of higher than usual temperatures

Chef Trevor Randle leads a June 21 online cooking featuring recipes – beef zesty lettuce wraps, blueberry strudel and blueberry spritzer. (Courtesy We Heart Local BC)
Free online cooking course explores B.C. blueberries and beef

Chef Trevor Randle calls them the province’s most flavourful foods

Google Maps shows significant traffic backups after a crash reported shortly before noon on Father’s Day, June 20. (Google Maps)
Father’s Day crash in Saanich closes lane of McKenzie Avenue

Police say there were injuries, traffic impacted

Jesse Roper tackles weeds in his garden to kick off the 2021 season of What’s In My Garden Man? (YouTube/Whats In My Garden)
VIDEO: Metchosin singer-songwriter Jesse Roper invites gardeners into his plot

What’s In My Garden, Man? kicks off with the poop on compost

FILE – Most lanes remain closed at the Peace Arch border crossing into the U.S. from Canada, where the shared border has been closed for nonessential travel in an effort to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, Thursday, May 7, 2020, in Blaine, Wash. The restrictions at the border took effect March 21, while allowing trade and other travel deemed essential to continue. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
Feds to issue update on border measures for fully vaccinated Canadians, permanent residents

Border with U.S. to remain closed to most until at least July 21

A portion of the George Road wildfire burns near Lytton, B.C. in this Friday, June 18, 2021 handout photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, BC Wildfire Service *MANDATORY CREDIT*
Blaze near Lytton spread across steep terrain, says BC Wildfire Service

Fire began Wednesday and is suspected to be human-caused, but remains under investigation

Blair Lebsack, owner of RGE RD restaurant, poses for a portrait in the dining room, in Edmonton, Friday, June 18, 2021. Canadian restaurants are having to find ways to deal with the rising cost of food. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Canadian restaurateurs grapple with rising food costs, menu prices expected to rise

Restaurants are a low margin industry, so there’s not a lot of room to work in additional costs

Cpl. Scott MacLeod and Police Service Dog Jago. Jago was killed in the line of duty on Thursday, June 17. (RCMP)
Abbotsford police, RCMP grieve 4-year-old service dog killed in line of duty

Jago killed by armed suspect during ‘high-risk’ incident in Alberta

A Lotto 6/49 ticket purchased in Parksville for the June 19, 2021 draw is a $3M winner. (Submitted photo)
Winning Lotto 6/49 ticket worth $3M purchased on Vancouver Island

Lottery prize winners have 52 weeks to claim jackpot

The George Road wildfire near Lytton, B.C., has grown to 250 hectares. (BC Wildfire Service)
B.C. drone sighting halts helicopters fighting 250 hectares of wildfire

‘If a drone collides with firefighting aircraft the consequences could be deadly,’ says BC Wildfire Service

Barbara Violo, pharmacist and owner of The Junction Chemist Pharmacy, draws up a dose behind vials of both Pfizer-BioNTech and Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines on the counter, in Toronto, Friday, June 18, 2021. An independent vaccine tracker website founded by a University of Saskatchewan student says just over 20 per cent of eligible Canadians — those 12 years old and above — are now fully vaccinated. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
At least 20% of eligible Canadians fully vaccinated, 75% with one dose: data

Earlier projections for reopening at this milestone didn’t include Delta variant

RCMP crest. (Black Press Media files)
Fort St. John man arrested after allegedly inviting sexual touching from children

Two children reported the incident to a trusted adult right away

Most Read