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Empowering survivors to rebuild

Margie began working with Women Against Abuse as a behavioral health intern during graduate school.  Today, she is one of two licensed therapists providing direct services to survivors of domestic violence in Women Against Abuse’s residential programs. She is stationed at both Ameya’s Place, one of the organization’s 100-bed emergency safe havens, and at Sojourner House, the organization’s 18-month transitional housing program. In this role, Margie provides individual and group therapy for adult and child clients, as well as crisis intervention, and supervision for social work interns from local universities.

Margie understands the incredible value of trauma-informed therapy with women and children who have experienced violence in their homes and often for a significant portion of their lives. “There’s a lot of hope in working with women and children survivors,” she says. “I see their ability to change and to grow.”

Women and children residing in the safe havens stay an average of 60-90 days. The short stay can be challenging for therapists to create meaningful change. “It’s about finding space for therapeutic interactions that might not be the traditional one hour, once a week therapy sessions,” says Margie.

“All of our clients have so many strengths – I’m blown away every day by how brave and resilient they are.”

At the safe haven, therapists begin by providing a trauma assessment with clients, learning more about the severity of their traumatic symptoms.

Due to the nature of their experience, survival instincts—those feelings that provoke us to fight, flight, or freeze—appear much more easily. For the women and children we serve, these instincts were often needed in order to stay alive. According to Margie, “What you see is that the fight-flight-freeze response can happen even after safety is established. And, so, part of the work is to help someone understand why that’s happening and ways to work around those symptoms and reduce them.”

Women Against Abuse’s services are trauma-informed, meaning that they take into account the fact that past traumatic experiences can impact clients for years to come. The therapy offered at Women Against Abuse’s safe havens is designed to empower clients to recognize their “trauma triggers” (such as shouting or slamming of a door), and learn how to manage the symptoms of past trauma by developing new coping skills.

“Clients have the opportunity to learn specific and concrete tools they can use in the moment when they feel like they’re becoming escalated,” Margie says.

It is through your support that staff like Margie are able to provide this life-giving therapy.

Please partner in this vital work by making a gift today

The therapists and behavioral health interns also facilitate therapeutic groups, which offer a welcoming foray into therapy for clients who have never tried it before. There are a plethora of weekly groups to choose from, spanning a relaxed and conversational jewelry making group, to parenting after domestic violence, to a psychoeducational group that uses art therapy to explore issues of addiction.

“A lot of the clients really value [the group] experience because they’re getting to share what they’ve been through, and connect with other people who have been through similar things,” Margie says. “They have the lived experience, and to know that they’re not alone in it can be really empowering.”

Weaved throughout  Women Against Abuse’s behavioral health services is the Sanctuary® Model, which provides a shared language and framework for understanding trauma, as well as tools for working through it. Women Against Abuse recently became one of the first domestic violence agencies certified in the Sanctuary® Model – an organization-wide effort that Margie sees positively impacting the survivors she works with.

“All of our clients have so many strengths– I’m blown away every day by how brave and resilient they are.”

Please partner in this vital work by making a gift today.

Your support will allow us to care for women and children healing after the trauma of domestic violence. Please give.

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