Can you tell me a little bit about what inspired “SoulTalk”?
SoulTalk began because of my own tragedy. I believed that if I was suffering from emotional / relationship crisis then there had to be other women. I started a small support group in 1992 asking women in pain to come together. For me, it was about helping myself get out of my own story and wanting to help others. It simply didn’t want to remain stuck. With this new found passion and determined dedication, I decided I was going to get the credentials necessary to make SoulTalk be that professional personalized safe and empathetic complete resource centre that would help women regain their life. From this point on, SoulTalk’s growth then saw us opening the first Loving Home Residence in 2006 in Hong Kong. We then opened a Women’s Centre last year and now shortly a 3rd Centre. We work with 2,000 women a year helping women help themselves and we are still unique in our services and programs. (www.soultalk.org)
What were some of the barriers for you in seeking help and leaving the relationship?
20 years ago there were no personalized services offering to hold your hand and guide you in difficult times. Therefore the fear, isolation, feeling of being overwhelmed and alone is very difficult. Leaving any relationship is difficult and can only be your own decision. Today I believe its becoming more important to hold onto your marriage if you have the courage to take a good close look at each other, learn to be more accepting and understand each other’s perceptions. Of course some abusive relationships may not be able to be saved. Working with professionals in all cases, is vital to know all your options and choices. Marriage / Divorce is a huge decision and should be done with all the awareness and knowledge possible.
What were some of the things that helped you to cope with your situation?
Definitely wanting to get my life back helped. My not willing to stay down and out. Forgiving myself and others. My willingness to dig deep and find that extra courage and strength I needed to first survive and then thrive. I believe if your need to be happy is greater then your need to be sad or angry, then you will slowly make shifts and changes to start the breaking of this crisis cycle. Helping others really was my therapy. This allowed me to learn that we all have our own stories, but we shouldn’t become our story. Mostly you have to want to raise above the huge loss of self-esteem self worth and take back your life. Not easy, but absolutely possible if you want it bad enough.
What was important in the formation of “SoulTalk”? What were the kinds of things you wanted to offer and why?
From an emotional stand point, letting women know they are not alone and that we understand how they feel. There are solutions. Se do not judge or give advice. What we do as professionals is place ourselves into our clients shoes and share options and choices based on what their needs and wants are. For them to have a better awareness level so that they can make better decisions in their lives. Believing in themselves and regaining their self-worth and confidence is crucial to begin to heal and regain their empowerment and life back. We wanted to offer a Loving Home Residence and Women’s Centres where women can live, learn and feel empowered whilst healing.
Have our services be free, consisting of Hotlines, counseling, educational programs, services, activities, legal assistance and accompanying service. We wanted to be the A-Z complete professional personalized resource centre for whatever a woman in crisis needs on her road of healing and thriving. All of this we have been successful in fulfilling. Of course we also needed all the systems and structure in place to make this happened and this was accomplished and is continually improved on as our development grows.
What did “SoulTalk” give you?
By putting myself into helping others, it took me along a path of making a difference in other people’s lives which in turn helped me make my own life better. For the last 18 years I have dedicated myself to helping others by running and operating SoulTalk. It’s like taking the worse day in your life and making it your best. Creating SoulTalk gave me so much and I feel very humbled and grateful that I too have given so much back during these years and continue to do so today.
What were some of the barriers in the formation of “SoulTalk”?
When you are forming a charity there is a lot of red tape at the start, but once you receive your charity status, it feels good. I’d say the most challenging part is fundraising. You need excellent strategies and a business plan which clearly states your mission to then convince donors as to why they should support your initiatives. Barriers can be blessings as they give you the opportunity to learn another way of doing something such as developing new strategies. I find feeling and being passionate, determined, diligent, persistent and a ‘can do’ attitude are the vital parts that show up first. On a longer term you must have the credibility of the highest integrity, professionalism and absolutely love giving and sharing with others.
Where do you see the future heading for “SoulTalk”?
SoulTalk’s future is based on doing the best we can and helping women realize how important they are. That they need to believe in themselves. Respect and love themselves more and know what makes them happy and follow that. We are the creators and artists of our lives. If we don’t make the right choices for ourselves, no one else will. Here’s to SoulTalk opening more centres and having more of our healed and happy women coming back to help and support us.
Being Jewish yourself, what do you see as some of the ways our community can support women and children experiencing family violence.
I believe for all women, its about knowing what your values are, sticking to those always and being your authentic self. Straying from this does unfortunately come back to bite you in life whether that is one month, one year or 10 years from now. Having a community where women can believe that asking for help is not a sign of their weakness but a sign or their courage, honesty and strength also allows women to know that its OK if we fall or fail because there is someone who we can lean on if we just take the first step ourselves to admit we need help.