Creating a Safe Space to Understand Domestic Violence
By Schwanna Cockerham-Qualls, LPC, MA
More than half of the women living at Calvary Women’s Services have a history of domestic violence, whether they have directly experienced violence or witnessed it in their families. Unhealthy relationships are an ongoing topic of discussion in individual and group therapy sessions. This is especially relevant as we recognize Domestic Violence Awareness Month.
Over the past eight weeks, I facilitated a domestic violence group for women at Calvary. We first focused on understanding what domestic violence is about – power and control. We talked about how domestic violence can affect an entire family, and the impacts of witnessing domestic violence. This resonated deeply with many women. We also looked at examples of healthy relationships in which women are treated with respect and equality.
Everyone signed a confidentiality agreement prior to the session, which allowed women to truly open up and share. In this group setting, women empowered one another to let their feelings out, in some cases for the first time in their lives.
Often, women at Calvary have not had the opportunity to sit with their experiences and emotions for a long time. Therapy is one outlet that offers them the chance to process feelings that they may not have acknowledged before. Women who are homeless are not used to people listening to or caring for them. It is vital to remind them that they deserve to feel special, and that they know what love can be.
Ms. Cockerham-Qualls leads individual and group therapy for residents at Calvary Women’s Services. To learn more about Domestic Violence Awareness Month, visit nnedv.org.