Domestic Violence: How to Cope with Trauma
It takes you about one minute to make your bed in the morning. During this minute and while preparing for the day, about 20 people in the United States are abused by an intimate partner. Those that are abused by an intimate partner are also survivors of trauma. Trauma can have negative long-term mental and physical health effects, so it’s important that trauma survivors cope with trauma in a safe way to live a healthy life after the abuse. It’s also important that these brave women and children have a variety of ways of way to cope with the trauma.
What is trauma?
Trauma is a psychological response to an event or an experience that is deeply distressing. Trauma can refer to a range of experiences, from an injury at a sporting event, to something more extreme, like torture or rape. It’s important to know that trauma is subjective, so something you consider trauma, your friend may not, and vice versa. Everyone also handles trauma differently, so coping with trauma looks different for everyone!
Women’s Center & Shelter offers both support groups and individualized therapy for intimate partner violence survivors. In the support groups, our therapists work with the “S.E.L.F.” model:
- Safety – creating a space safe from physical, emotional and moral abuse
- Emotions – how feelings such as fear, sadness and anger teach us about ourselves, as well as how to manage feelings in a healthy way
- Loss – understanding and feeling grief as it relates to domestic violence and trauma
- Future – exploring what life might look like after a personal history of abuse and trauma
We have support groups for women who are in “crisis” (abuse happened less than a year ago) and for those whose are no longer in crisis. For women who feel unconformable in the support groups, we also offer individualized therapy.
What about other ways to cope with trauma?
As mentioned previously, coping with trauma looks different for everyone! Sometimes, it’s difficult for our residents to talk about trauma, so we also provide other healthy and safe ways for women and their children to cope. Some of the more fun and creative ways to cope with trauma that we offer include:
Exercise Trauma can lower your energy and decrease your focus, but exercise can reduce fatigue and increase concentration. Not to mention it’s great for your body and physical health as well! When we renovated our shelter, we designed the perimeter of the rooms to be a walking trail known as a “meditative path.” Now residents can still exercise if it’s cold or rainy!
Dance & Yoga Trauma can impact your body’s stress, and working through the physiological layers of your body can release stress emotions in a way that’s safe and healthy. Dance and yoga provide the same benefits mentioned above for exercise also! We work with volunteers to hold informed yoga and Zumba sessions for the residents so they can work through trauma in a productive way.
Expressive Art Our brains store our memories and we can process and heal trauma by invoking these memories through art. With expressive art, the process is emphasized more than the final product (much like what the focus of your journey healing from trauma should be!). You don’t need to have any artistic talent, just a willingness to cope with your trauma. We have volunteer art therapists that hold expressive art sessions with resident and nonresident clients both adults and children, doing crafts such as finger painting and mask making!
Music Music can help with anxiety, alleviate depression, and enhance your physical well-being. Music can also help make it easier to express your feelings in a creative and individualized way. We have a musical therapist who visits every other week to help women and children work through trauma with the assistance of the universal language of music.
Think you’re in an abusive relationship and in need help? Call us today at 412-687-8005 to learn about our services. Abuse is NOT love.
Take the Father’s Day Pledge to End Gender Violence!
Outside of being fathers, men have many other roles as uncles, brothers, colleagues, mentors, and role models. In order to end domestic and sexual violence, we call for men to have conversations with their children about healthy relationships, confront other men about disrespectful jokes or behavior, and support survivors to get help. Domestic violence affects us all, whether it is directly or through our family, friends, and colleagues, and we want men to help end us the fight against gender violence. For those incredible men already supporting these issues, thank you!
One in three women are abused physically, sexually, emotionally or verbally by their partner, and while most men and women oppose gender violence, it is not enough to be quietly supportive. This year, we have partnered with the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Domestic Violence, PA Says No More, and Southwest PA Says No More for their Father’s Day Pledge PA Campaign. This is a statewide campaign for men to join women in taking action to end gender violence.
The Fourth Annual Father’s Day Pledge Signing Ceremony will occur at the US Steel Tower on Friday, June 14 from 12 – 1 PM. The ceremony is an opportunity for community leaders and the public to sign their name to the Pledge, publicly taking a stand to end domestic violence and sexual assault. Opening remarks will include Bill Peduto, current Mayor of Pittsburgh. Speeches will be given on supporting survivors, engaging young people in the conversations about prevention (featuring our own Rhonda Fleming, Director of Education), and speaking out against abusive behaviors. Afterwards, there will be a public recitation of the pledge, and a signing ceremony for community leaders and the public. Sign up here.
Not able to attend in person? You can sign the pledge online here, vowing to make your community safer by learning about domestic violence and sexual assault, modeling respect equality in your own relationships, and speaking out against disrespectful and abusive behaviors.
You are also able to plan your own Father’s Day Pledge event! We urge businesses and organizations to display Pledge posters and encourage employees and visitors to sign. You can also set up a Father’s Day Pledge booth at local sporting events, programs, and festivals. For more information on hosting your own event, learn more here.