Tag Archives: domestic violence awareness month

Altered Books, Altered Self-Compassion

Guest Blog by Anne Sutton, MA LPC, HAVEN – Counseling Program

“Self-compassion is extending compassion to one’s self in instances of perceived inadequacy, failure, or general suffering.” – Dr. Kristen Neff, author of Self-Compassion

Self-Compassion as a daily practice can be very difficult for survivors of intimate partner violence and sexual violence. Trauma alters our inner self-talk, increasing our critical voices and muting our loving compassionate voices. The negative voice can become so strong it becomes a bully. It bellows and overwhelms our quieter, loving voices.

art1 art2Survivors’ representations of the “inner bully,” their negative self-talk

It is important to train our compassionate self because that’s the part of us that is most helpful. If we only listen to the anxious/angry/self-critical part of ourselves, we get a biased view.

We all want to be more loving to ourselves but HOW? What are the tools? What can help us to remember to have self-compassion for ourselves? What can help us quiet our inner bully?

The group members in HAVEN’S on going trauma support group, Surviving and Thriving through Trauma began a lengthy group project focused on increasing feelings of self-compassion and developing a daily self-compassion practice. Each group member developed a personal handbook of self-compassion by creating an Altered Book.


Four of the group members with their completed Altered Books. 

Altered books are an art therapy technique that takes an old hard cover book, destroys it and transforms it into something completely different, something amazingly beautiful and personal.




The group started on this project in early May, 2016 and had a final celebration of their hard work in September. The women started by destroying the original books (most were brought from home or garage sales) to craft pages to create upon. We ripped out pages in the books, leaving large gaps in the books and filling the group room with discarded pages.

We then glued the remaining pages together leaving 10-12 thick and solid pages. These became our foundation to paint, draw, write and collage upon. The group members spent the next 10 weeks reflecting upon and making creative representations of ten key aspects of self-compassion:

  • May I be kind to myself
  • My inner bully
  • Compassionate people in my life
  • A compassionate place
  • A compassionate color
  • Wisdom
  • Strength
  • Responsibility
  • Warmth
  • My perfect nurturer

Here are some more amazing creations:


May I be kind to myself


My compassionate color



My perfect nurturer




The project became a fun, messy and very creative way to address a difficult issue for trauma survivors, learning to be loving to ourselves.


Self-compassion is an important part of ALL of our lives. The group and I would like to share with you one of our favorite self-compassion meditation practices (from Kristen Neff) to use when your inner bully shouts at you or life is just hard:

This is a moment of suffering

                  Suffering is a part of living

                  May I be kind to myself

                                    May I give myself the compassion I need

                                    May I learn to accept myself as I am

                                    May I be strong

                                    May I be safe


My Compassionate Self – cover art



Strength and Wisdom

If you’d like to learn more about the HAVEN Counseling Program, click here.


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Collective Strength


Guest post by Karen Wullaert DeKett, MA, LPC, DV/SA Therapist, HAVEN

With one in three Michigan families impacted by domestic violence, it can seem like a daunting task to bring it to an end. But, by working together we can make great strides through our collective strength in protecting those impacted by this crime.

This month is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. It’s a chance for everyone in the movement – victims, survivors, advocates, law enforcement, supporters and politicians – to unite in our work to end abuse. If you’re wondering how YOU can support this effort, here are some ideas:

  • Many of our supporters encourage their coworkers to wear purple and collect funds to donate in support of survivors. If your organization does this, please be sure to send us a picture or post on social media with the hashtags #LiveWithoutFear and #DVAM.

You can also:

  • Explore our website to learn about the issue.
  • Hold your friends accountable when they disrespect women and girls.
  • Engage others in discussions about violence against women.
  • Speak out against racist, sexist or homophobic jokes.
  • Learn how to take action if you witness a violent act against a friend or neighbor. While it can be a scary or awkward situation, the difference between not doing anything and doing something could mean the difference between life and death.
  • Applaud others who speak out against violence and oppression.
  • Reconsider spanking or hitting your children.
  • Open the dialogue with your children and teach them that respect is the minimum in a relationship and lead by example. Let them know what acceptable behavior is and what the limits are.

At HAVEN, our Counseling Program recognizes Domestic Violence Awareness Month by holding a Candlelight Vigil for survivors every year. Our goal is to bring survivors together to celebrate their inner strength, their connectedness, and their resilience. We want to honor our past and all of the survivors and supporters who have come before us. We also look forward to the future and creating a world free of violence and fear.

This year, residential and non-residential clients came together to celebrate their personal healing journeys and their collective strength. The evening started with a meditation focused on loving-kindness, encouraging each survivor to focus on her worthiness and strength.

Next, clients created a group art project. The foundation of the art piece was a tree in the Meditation Garden. The tree represented the movement to end domestic violence. The movement has deep roots, spanning generations. The tree represented all survivors and supporters, past, present, and future. Each person was given a cutout of a hand; it represented their “leaf” on the tree, their own unique healing journey. It’s their story in the larger narrative.


After they finished creating their handprints, they were given the option of sharing with the group. They shared stories of courage and faith in the face of abuse and adversity. They shared what grounded them and what has helped them heal. They shared inspirational words, quotes, and poetry. After each person shared, the group offered applause and kind words.

Next, the survivors hung their handprints on the tree and gathered around the fire pit. Each woman took a candle and one-by-one, they lit each other’s candles. As they touched candles, they shared an affirmation or words of encouragement with one another. There was a moment of silence to honor all survivors of domestic violence.

I have so much gratitude for the women who came to this year’s vigil. It was inspiring to be in their presence, not just to hear their stories of hope and empowerment, but to see the compassion and warmth they shared with each other. Sometimes HAVEN’s mission seems so big to me. But on nights like the Candlelight Vigil, I am reminded of how powerful a small group can be and how much of an impact HAVEN has in the lives of survivors.

If you’d like to learn more about HAVEN, visit our website at www.haven-oakland.org.

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Truth. Respect. Communication.

Print ad, created by the team at Campbell Ewald, for the "Nice Guy" campaign.

Print ad, created by the team at Campbell Ewald, for the “Nice Guy” campaign.

Guest blog by: Jim Feltz, Senior Copywriter, Campbell Ewald

There are a lot of ingredients that go into a healthy long-term relationship. Trust. Respect. And certainly among the most important is good communication.

Over the last 15 years, HAVEN and Campbell Ewald have been working together to raise awareness and reach victims of domestic violence and sexual assault in Oakland County. It’s an enormous issue that affects one in three homes. And with each and every piece of communication that we develop as a team, another message of hope and healing is spread throughout the area.

From creating invitations and materials for fundraising events to developing full PSA campaigns, our relationship has really made a positive impact on the community. And while all of the advertising HAVEN and Campbell Ewald have collaborated on over the years has put the mission of awareness and support first, the “Nice Guy” campaign does so by staring abusers right in the eye.

Together, our team developed a strategy to show who abusers really are and what their internal justifications sound like. We knew that, as hard as it may be to see and hear, when people were presented with the real words between the lines, they might be encouraged to offer a little help — or perhaps seek it for themselves.

That simple, truthful insight led to the creation of a fully integrated campaign — print ads, online banners, posters, billboards and more. Each piece of communication sends a powerful message, encouraging victims to seek help and safety from violence.

As HAVEN and Campbell Ewald worked to create this awareness campaign, we had the opportunity to build more relationships with generous and talented people who donated their time and efforts to this cause. One relationship in particular was with the director of our television spot — two-time Academy Award winner, Angus Wall.

This television commercial was an intense piece of communication. It’s a startling face-to-face with an abuser — we see who he is, how he uses manipulation as a threat and how dangerous a villain like this can be. We identify him directly. It’s a perfectly clear communication, not only to victims, but abusers as well.

The campaign was a huge success, resulting in a huge spike in donations to the Capital Campaign — a fundraising effort for the new HAVEN facility. It’s also earned several awards and a lot of national buzz — including AdWeek’s “Ad of the Day.”

While awards and recognition are a great pat on the back for what HAVEN and Campbell Ewald did together, the more important part about it to us is that the message was communicated to a much larger audience. Because when more people are aware, the stronger and more effective we can be as we work to eradicate domestic violence and sexual assault. We helped spread that message together.

And all that is made possible through having a healthy relationship — a long-term relationship that gets stronger every day that we work together. One that really embraces the true power of communication.

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It’s Time to Talk

Domestic violence thrives on silence.  Often times hiding in plain sight.  Please join the staff at HAVEN and myself this month, Domestic Violence Awareness Month, to shed light onto this epidemic.

We have a false sense of security when we think that domestic violence happens to other people who live elsewhere.  In actuality, 1 in 3 households in Michigan has experienced domestic violence firsthand.  In Oakland County that equates to more than 150,000 households that are affected.  So the odds are pretty good that someone you know has been impacted.

On some level, most of us unknowingly participate in the culture that supports and encourages violence against women and girls. Like when we tell our friends to “man up” when they have to do something difficult or when we laugh at sexist jokes. But there are also bigger ways culture supports and encourages violence. For example, when a manager makes light of a sexual harassment complaint, when sports figures or celebrities accused of domestic violence receive special treatment, or when people don’t speak out against the beating and raping of women and girls.  Or worse yet, they speak out but do so to blame the victim.

Beginning today and every day thereafter, I am urging you to look beyond the makeup and the excuses and dig a bit deeper.  Be aware of what you say, trust your gut if something doesn’t seem right and ask questions if you think someone needs help.  Take action to educate yourself by learning the facts, the prevalence, and how to help, and then share what you learn to aid in bringing an end to these horrific crimes.

Starting today you can:

  • Hold your friends and family accountable when they disrespect women and girls.
  • Engage others in discussions about violence against women.
  • Speak out against racist, sexist or homophobic jokes.
  • Avoid engaging in, supporting or encouraging sexual harassment.
  • Learn how to take action if you hear of or witness a violent act against a friend, neighbor or stranger.
  • Applaud others who speak out against violence and oppression.
  • Believe survivors and don’t blame them for what has happened.
  • Reconsider spanking or hitting your children.
  • Teach kids that respect is the minimum in a relationship and lead by example.

Break the silence and get talking.  We all need to play a role to break the cycle of Domestic Violence – someone’s life could depend on it.

If you or someone you know needs help, please contact the HAVEN Crisis and Support Line at 1-877-922-1274.

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October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month

By Beth Morrison, HAVEN CEO

One in two Americans live in fear.  Fear of being beaten, raped and/or abused.  Consciously or unconsciously, the fear permeates all facets of life – home, work, recreation, school, even shopping.

So who is experiencing this fear? Women and girls, from the very young to the elderly.  For many years the burden of this fear fell mostly on the shoulders of women. We were taught to be leery of strangers, to avoid being out at night alone, to watch your back, to avoid certain “types” of men, to fake being married if you live alone and the list goes on and on. And then we passed the message on to our daughters, nieces and other young women.

For generations, women have not only lived with this fear, but have done almost all of the work to eliminate domestic violence and sexual assault. Men have done little  to end such violence even though the majority of perpetrators are men.  For too long, violence against women has been seen as a women’s issue..

Times have changed!  It is time for men to step up, learn and be proactive in working toward ending violence against women.  We know that there are many more well-meaning men, than abusive men.   We need these well-meaning men to stand beside us and work with us to end these horrific crimes. We need well-meaning men to stand up and speak out about domestic violence and sexual assault. 

It’s not just about being a superhero.  A Call to Men, a national organization focusing on men’s role in ending violence against women, spells out 10 things that men can do to prevent domestic and sexual violence. On this list is a reminder that silence is affirming, when we choose not to speak out against domestic violence and sexual violence we are supporting it.  The HAVEN website also has some great everyday tips about what men can do to prevent violence against women. 

At HAVEN we invite the men of our community to stand up and speak out! Make this October, National Domestic Violence Awareness Month, your time to take a stand and become involved.  Email us at gentlemen@haven-oakland.org to  more about HAVEN efforts to engage men in ending violence against women, and to become a participant. 

And remember, we all have the right to live without fear.


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