Resilience: Advocates for Ending Violence (Part 2)
This is the second part of a two-part series on Resilience: Advocates for Ending Violence. Be sure to read Part One from last week.
Victims of intimate partner violence are under constant control of their perpetrator, often leaving devastating and lasting impacts. Resilience work with survivors to restore their feeling of control and self-worth. Other important volunteer roles include advocating on the 24-hour Help Line, assisting with emergency shelter, providing court accompaniment, and more.
Being empowerment-based, Resilience does not force sexual assault victims over the age of 16 to report to police. Resilience stores evidence kits for up to a year, allowing the victim time to learn about violence and trauma, assess what has happened to them and determine, for themselves, the way forward.
Resilience recognizes that each person is unique and that all personnel must “meet clients where they are at.” Assessment of each case centers around safety. “Is our shelter the only place for you to go or do you have a safe place elsewhere?” “Where is your partner now?” “Are there children involved?” “Does your partner have access to guns?” “Is there a history of substance abuse?” “Has there ever been an attempt to strangle you?” “Is your partner suicidal?” (Suicidal threats suggest the perpetrator doesn’t value his or her own life, the partner’s or both.)
Witnessing violence in the family home is one of the strongest risk factors for intergenerational violence. Children of victims do not have to physically see an act of violence for it to have serious impacts on their development. Traumatic experiences can disrupt brain development, therefore early intervention is crucial. Symptoms may include regression, aggression, nightmares, withdrawing, and violent tendencies. Helping children feel emotionally safe can lead to healthy relationships later in life. Resilience utilizes individual and group therapy to increase each child’s feeling of safety and reduce trauma symptoms.
Case management for survivors of intimate partner violence often includes therapeutic approaches to goal setting, obtaining a job, education, and housing. Resilience also promotes healing within their several support groups. One group emphasizes domestic violence education, another self-empowerment, and a third is peer lead, simply providing survivors a space to connect with each other. Groups are held for children who have witnessed violence and their caregivers to help understand trauma’s effect on the brain.
Resilience even hosts a women’s support group at the Allegan County Jail. While they can be in for a variety of offenses, some are victims of domestic violence and are unfairly jailed due to manipulation of the perpetrators. The goal of this group is to help survivors heal while preparing them for life outside of incarceration.
The emergency shelter is usually filled to capacity. It can be a challenge to find appropriate, safe housing for clients. Developing a safety plan can be another challenge when few options are available to clients.
There has always been an element of danger associated with perpetrators wanting to stalk their partners and regain control over them. With the goal of being more inclusive to survivors that don’t identify as female, Resilience must more frequently ask, “Is the male at the door a victim or a perpetrator? “Who do we let in the door?” There are certain safety challenges that may come with a diverse client base, but Resilience is ready to meet them head on. Resilience has recently added two male staff members, one being a Trauma Therapist.
As with many other interviews, I came away from my meeting with Danielle Evans thinking again about what incredible people we have in this community that devote their lives to helping others. Their technical knowledge is impressive, their experience obvious, but it is their compassion and passion for their work that truly inspires.
How are you helping? What are being called to do?
Resilience: Advocates for Ending Violence
411 Butternut Dr.
Holland, MI 49424
Free and confidential support is available for survivors of domestic and sexual violence by calling our 24-Hour Help Line: