What does independence mean to you?

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Guest post by Meilani Wilder, HAVEN Intern

When people hear the word “independence,” often “The 4th of July” or “America” comes to mind. If we look at the definition of independence, Merriam-Webster simply breaks it down as, “freedom from outside control or support.” One might think that independence is a fundamental right for all, but for many, it is still a difficult right to gain, especially for those who suffer from abuse.

Victims of domestic violence can sometimes feel that they are prisoners of their situation. It can be difficult to imagine the abuse coming to an end and, often, the weight of the abuse can take a toll on a person’s mental and physical health. In an effort to maintain control, abusers may convince their victims that the abuse is their fault,  making it even harder to leave the situation.

That is why HAVEN is here; to help give domestic violence victims a voice where they can regain their rightful independence. We work daily to help provide an experience and environment where victims of domestic violence can identify as survivors while feeling supported and protected. We also work to give each person we serve the tools they need to regain their independence.

We offer a counseling program that includes one-on-one sessions as well as group therapy to help those that have experienced abuse on their journey of healing. Survivors often report after speaking with a HAVEN counselor; they feel that it was the first time they’ve shared their plight without feeling judged.

Counselors are specially trained to address the safety needs and concerns of domestic violence survivors. At HAVEN, the client determines her counseling goals in collaboration with the counselor. No diagnosis or labels are given because being victimized is not a mental health issue. All counseling programs at HAVEN are offered free of charge.

If you know someone who is suffering from domestic violence, offer her your ear and share information about HAVEN.  She may be feeling alone, scared or confused. Not knowing where to go or whom to ask for help can make a traumatic experience even scarier. By letting her know organizations like HAVEN are here to help, you can help her ease some of those feelings and start to focus on gaining back control of her life. Moving closer to independence.

For more information on our counseling program, click here. If you or someone you love is in need of immediate support, please call our 24-hour Crisis and Support Line at 877-922-1274.

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