Tag Archives: domestic violence

Suffering in Silence

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Photo credit: BreaktheCycle.org

Guest Post by Nkenge Burkhead, Prevention Education Specialist, HAVEN

Often the media portrays domestic violence as a married heterosexual couple or partners living together. They have usually been together multiple years and may share bills, expenses, cars, and children. If teens are mentioned at all they are usually witnesses that experience violence second-hand. However, the unfortunate reality for many teens is that they are already experiencing violence and abuse in their relationships, and are suffering in silence.

Intimate partner violence is an umbrella term that covers domestic violence and dating violence. While domestic violence and dating violence are similar, there are differences in the way power and control techniques are carried out. In order to provide adequate resources, we must first acknowledge that teen dating violence exists and include teens in the discussion. Secondly, we must understand and recognize the signs and tools used to perpetrate abuse.

The Prevention Education team at HAVEN conducts interactive presentations with high school students. These students are of various identities, racial, and economic backgrounds. One of the questions we pose is “can texting or calling constantly be a sign of controlling behavior?” I’m still surprised at the number of students who answer “no”, and further shocked at the number of students who identify this behavior to be at least normal and caring.

Social media invites us to publicly announce where we are and who we’re with, discuss our happy and sad moments. It also allows partners to have constant access. We know that stalking has always been used by abusive partners. However, with the invention of smart phones and social media, stalking has redesigned how it presents itself. Accessibility is greater and it has become easier for abusive partners to utilize and control. They no longer have to come to where you are to interrupt your feeling of safety, they can do it from home.

Teen dating violence statistics tell us that there is a need for education, intervention, and resource availability. 1 in 3 adolescents in the U.S. is a victim of physical, sexual, emotional, or verbal abuse from a dating partner. 1 in 10 high school students has been purposely hit, slapped, or physically hurt by a partner. Girls and women between the ages 16 and 24 experience the highest rates of dating violence. These are the statistics that have been collected through reporting. But most people, teens included, never report experiencing intimate-partner violence. There are no statistics for teens who don’t report because they do not identify what they’re experiencing as abuse, or may be afraid to tell their parents because they don’t know they’ve been dating, or might be afraid to get someone in trouble.

We recognize abuse can show up in many ways that aren’t physical. Through our prevention presentations, we are able to ignite conversations that allow teens to explore their personal beliefs and boundaries in relationships. We identify signs and abusive tactics. We also offer tools on how to respond to a friends’ disclosure in a way that is empowering and supportive.

HAVEN’s Prevention Education team is able to provide youth with a space to acknowledge and discuss the prevalence of teen dating violence. In addition to the presentations our counseling services are also available to youth.

Talk to the teens in your life. Listen and learn where they are. Offer advice and support when asked. Offer HAVEN as a resource when any type of abuse is suspected. To schedule HAVEN Prevention Education presentations in your school or community group contact the Prevention Education Program Director at (248) 334-1284 ext. 352.

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Filed under Teen Dating 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.

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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.

 

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Wisdom

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:

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May I be kind to myself

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My compassionate color

 

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My perfect nurturer

 

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Warmth

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

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My Compassionate Self – cover art

 

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Strength and Wisdom

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

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Collective Strength

handprints-distance

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.

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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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True Teamwork

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The team from Lear Corporation, also the event’s presenting sponsor, poses with the Lions’ mascot, Roary, at the 2015 HAVEN Tailgate Party. 

Guest post by Lindsey Ransone, HAVEN Intern

It’s wild to think that the Olympics ended three weeks ago. The image of Rio’s Mayor, Eduardo Paes, handing over the Olympic flag to Tokyo’s Governor, Yuriko Koike, at the closing ceremony, is left engraved in our memories. It gives us the feeling of unity – anyone, regardless of our differences, or locations, can come together and participate in a global event that symbolizes teamwork.

Not only was true teamwork exhibited by the US Women’s gymnastics team, allowing them to take home the gold, but the team efforts of Abbey D’Agostino of the United States and Nikki Hamblin of New Zealand in the Women’s 5,000-meter run were astounding. Both D’Agostino and Hamblin, who were competing against one another’s country in the event, fell a mile into the race. Instead of leaving one another behind, D’Agostino and Hamblin exemplified great compassion and leadership by helping one another get up and move forward. The message for us is that you can find supporters to help work towards a common goal outside of your group and help each other reach the finish line.

Like those two women, HAVEN has been blessed with a partnership with the Detroit Lions. Both organizations, HAVEN, and the Lions understand that though we are two separate entities, together we are more effective in working towards ending crimes that affect everyone. And it will take all of us to tackle these issues, because sadly one in three Michigan families have been impacted by domestic violence and one in four women and one in 33 men have experienced an attempted or completed rape.

On September 25, HAVEN will be partnering with the Lions once again for HAVEN’s 4th annual Tailgate Party at the Birmingham Athletic Club. The event coincides with the Detroit Lions at Green Bay Packers game and features a buffet lunch, raffles and auctions, beer and wine, special liquor tastings, as well as speakers to share HAVEN’s mission during halftime.

Together we can achieve the level of teamwork that was showcased during the Olympics and through the Lions’ partnership, to collectively end domestic violence and sexual assault. Won’t you join us?

For more information about HAVEN’s 4th annual Tailgate Party on September 25th and to purchase tickets click here. 

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Engaging Men in Gender Equity

Redefine Blog

Guest Post by Averett Robey, Prevention Education Specialist, HAVEN

This year marks (the end) of the first year of the Detroit Lions partnership with HAVEN to bring redefine, our young men’s leadership development program, to Oakland and Wayne Counties. As the school year closed earlier this season, I reflected upon all the schools, classrooms, educators, and dedicated and awesome students we had the opportunity to engage and meet. We were fortunate enough to celebrate these students’ dedication and commitment to ending violence in their communities in a big way. Together we celebrated the young men’s completion of the program with an event at Ford Field. It was an opportunity for them to meet former and current Lions players, get signed memorabilia, and go on a tour through the locker room and field. Not only was the event remarkable, but having an opportunity to hear students say “This is the best day ever,” “Thank you for bringing this to our school,” and “Can’t we be in the program next year?” was an awesome experience.

To anyone looking from the outside, they would most likely assume that hearing those statements was the best thing about the whole experience. However, to me it is not. You see, redefine is not only about building empathy and teaching young men about the epidemic of intimate partner and sexual violence. It is about working with young men to redefine what it means to be a man. To develop a definition that is not rooted in violence, domination, or control, but centers on respect, equity, and empathy. This is crucial for a couple of reasons. First, the current definition is taught, and then reinforced, to help build a foundation where violence is linked to masculinity. Sayings like “get up, and act like a man!” and “don’t let nobody disrespect you” are great examples of how we teach men and boys this toxic definition every day. All of these things work together to create the reality where 90+ of every 100 violent crimes are committed by men, 88.8% of homicide offenders from 1980-2008 were men, and where 99.8% of convicted rapists are men. These statistics do not mean that most men would commit these crimes, it is a small percentage of men that do, but what is important is how we work with the men and boys who would never perpetrate that violence to intervene and become change agents. This is important because violence affects everyone, people they love and care about; as well as, themselves. Its impact on men and boys is great. This toxic definition of masculinity, linked with stoicism, works in tandem to create a framework where less than 50% of boys and men with mental health issues seek help and every day in the U.S. 3 or more boys commit suicide.

For me the greatest part of our redefine program is working with young men to redefine masculinity, to establish working definitions that help create the change that we desperately need. Our program is an intentional push away from other prevention efforts that focuses on putting women on pedestals and “protecting” them, and instead centers on working alongside women and girls to eliminate intimate partner and sexual violence. This is key because it is only in equity that we can create sustainable systemic change. It is on all of us to come together to eliminate violence in our communities.

For more information on violent masculinity and its impact, access these hyperlinks.

To bring prevention programming to your school in Oakland County, Michigan in the coming year contact our Prevention Education Program at HAVEN.

If you or someone you know is a victim of intimate partner violence or experiencing power and control dynamic in their relationship that feels abusive or unsafe HAVEN is here to help. Our crisis and support line is always open for you 877-922-1274. 

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Children are Resilient

Kids playing

Guest post by Rachel Decker, Development Director, HAVEN and Executive Director, HAVEN Foundation

I’ve been with HAVEN nearly 4 years now. Having little background in the issues of domestic and sexual violence, I’ve come to learn a thing or two or three or….well you get the point.

Thing 1 – Nearly three quarters of women who are abused by their partners have children.

It’s a stat I’ve come to know well and it’s a stat I often repeat to our donors because it tells a story – a story of not just victimization, but the ability to stop the cycle of violence before it passes to the next generation.

Children who witness violence in their home often blame themselves for the violence. If I had cleaned my room maybe daddy wouldn’t be so mad at mommy. They experience guilt for loving the abuser. How can I love my dad when he hits my mom? Boys often have an overwhelming sense of responsibility to protect the victim. Shouldn’t I fight back to protect my mother?

They live in a constant state of fear and anxiety. Never knowing what will trigger the next attack.

Thing 2 – Those emotions surface in various different ways. Older children begin wetting the bed because of anxiety and fear. Younger children don’t learn to respect their mother because their father is reinforcing her “worthlessness.” Children of all ages hit and they yell….at their mother, their siblings, their friends, anyone. Because hitting is the only way they’ve learned how to get someone’s attention.

And the list of issues goes on…emotional detachment, poor grades, trouble concentrating, cognitive and development delays, acting out, depression, cutting, drug use. But, of all the challenges faced by the children at HAVEN, the one I believe is perhaps the worst and the hardest to overcome, is learning that violence is not the answer. Without anyone modeling healthy relationships, sadly, boys grow up to be abusers and girls become victims. The cycle is repeated.

Thing 3 – Children are remarkably resilient. When they have adequate resources to simply be kids – playtime, field trips, art projects, and story time – they begin to heal from the violence that has unfortunately been a significant part of their young lives. And when given counseling, support and education, they are not only able to overcome the challenges; they learn how to NOT perpetuate the cycle of violence. Boys learn to be respectful, caring partners. Girls learn empowerment and self-worth. Everyone learns that love shouldn’t hurt.

More than just learning about the resiliency of the children of domestic violence, I’ve seen it firsthand. Children coming out of their shell while staying in our shelter; kids learning respect from our male mentors; students in our Redefine program learning what it truly means to be a man; our youth coordinator teaching kids not to hit; children excited about getting help with homework; and mothers learning better parenting skills.

But, perhaps most importantly, I hear from the survivors themselves – adults who grew up in homes plagued by violence, adults who tell stories of coming to HAVEN and feeling safe, adults who learned love shouldn’t hurt. Adults who stopped the cycle.

You can help stop the cycle by giving the kids in our shelter a chance to just be kids. Please consider supporting our Playground Initiative by making a donation here.  Want to be a kid yourself? Pick an item off of our summer activities list, grab your family and go have some fun.

 

 

 

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Bittersweet

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Bittersweet – defined by Webster’s as pleasure alloyed with pain. But today it is defined by me as a mix of sadness, tears, excitement, challenge, and change. After 13 years at HAVEN, my bittersweet moment of saying goodbye has come.

I will be leaving this incredible organization at the end of July and moving to my home away from home, Tucson, Arizona. I have accepted the position of CEO at another wonderful nonprofit organization in Tucson, Our Family Services. For years, it has been a dream of my husband and me to return to the beauty of the desert, and it is now time to make that dream a reality. With family ties to Arizona and great memories of having lived there a number of years ago, we are anxious to make our return.

My time at HAVEN is one filled with so much adventure, joy, success, friendship, growth, and service. This organization is special. The rich history of serving the community, the incredible staff and volunteers, the position of financial strength, and the partnership with so many other amazing organizations and agencies, makes it especially difficult to say goodbye.

But an organization, such as HAVEN, is bigger than one individual. I am confident that it will continue to grow, flourish, and remain a high quality program for years to come. Its new leader will have many challenges but with the continued dedication and support of the community, she will find the same support that I found.

Over the past decade, we have stabilized our financial picture, added an incredible depth and breadth of services due to our collaborations and partnerships, and built a beautiful space to do our work. These successes are due to the concentrated efforts of a dedicated board of directors, the expertise and passion of our staff, and the belief and trust of our funders and supporters. Clearly I am not the only person who knows just how special HAVEN is and will continue to be for years to come.

To the thousands of survivors that have been served by HAVEN during my tenure, I offer you my thanks. Thank you for allowing me to play a part, directly or indirectly, in your healing journey. In observing your courage and strength, you have challenged me to be a better person.

To the HAVEN staff, board, and volunteers, I thank you for your passion and dedication to a mission which often seems unsurmountable. But if there was ever a group of people who can achieve this giant challenge, it is you. The incredible culture at HAVEN is what kept me motivated to do my best and to weather a few storms along the way.

To the community of donors, funders, and supporters, I thank you for your faith and trust in my ability to be a good steward of your support and to lead HAVEN to go forth and do good. To think that an agency of our size can provide quality services and programming to nearly 20,000 individuals each year and to do so when 50% of our budget must be raised each and every year directly from our community is a bit crazy. Your belief in the importance of our work and your dedication to giving us the tools to do our work is what makes change happen.

Thank you for allowing me to have both the honor and the privilege to lead HAVEN. I can’t wait to see the greatness which happens next!

Image source: relatably.com

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