skip to Main Content

Have Peace

A former Safe Harbor shelter client named "Alex" shared this letter with us last year. Alex wrote this letter for our counselors to share with current shelter clients during support groups and individual sessions, providing words of hope and encouragement to domestic violence victims
Read More

The Map

by Samantha Tucker, Grants Manager, Safe Harbor

When I was 12, I was tired of being a tomboy and I wanted to be a cheerleader… to give bows and skirts a chance.  Tryouts were a several-day process of learning one chant and one cheer (those are apparently two very different things), then performing them in front of a judging panel.  Simple enough. 

I started out overconfident – after all, I was a gymnast and I could tumble across the floor like a rock skipping across water.  What more could it take?  But as the time drew closer my confidence lessened.  I suddenly felt less cute than the other girls, like I was wearing a costume.  I felt out of place.  I felt ill prepared.  My nerves hurt my stomach and I thought I might cry.

I walked into the gym and the panic intensified.  I froze.  There I stood, ponytailed girls chanting all around me, my feet stuck to the ground and my lips pressed closed.  It was awful.  How had I gone from an easygoing athletic girl to someone I’d never known myself to be?

Jennifer describes being a victim as being in many little pieces without knowledge of how to put the pieces back together.  What a powerful way to depict the experience.  Having worked at Safe Harbor for eight years, I’ve never heard it phrased this way but it very much resonates with me.  As I listened to her, I recalled that feeling from back when I was 12 years old – I’d known what I was capable of and what I needed to do.  But those feelings of inadequacy, of fear, of insecurity, and of panic were so much stronger.  They were completely debilitating. 

Read More

It’s Okay to Cry

By Lauren Stephens, Children’s Advocate at Safe Harbor
 
In the children’s program at the shelter, we recently had two sisters, “Hannah” and “Sarah”, who had come to Safe Harbor with their mother after fleeing a dangerous domestic violence situation in their home. These two girls had not yet been given the opportunity to heal or to fully understand what happened with their father due to other situations that occurred in their transition. These two girls are beautiful examples of the differences that exist within the dynamic of sisters. They look so much alike externally, and even after going through identical traumatic situations, they both have learned to handle this trauma in completely different ways.

One day, Hannah was playing with a Jacob’s Ladder that I have in my office; I have found if you occupy a child’s hands, their ability to feel their emotions expands greatly.  As Hannah played with the Jacob’s Ladder, she said, “Can I ask you a question?” I responded, “You can ask me anything you want.” She then replied, with her head low, hands still busy, “Is it okay if I want to cry all the time?” I responded, saying, “It is completely okay to want to cry, and it is okay to cry. Crying is your body’s way of letting something go. The tears you cry is your body’s way of showing you that it is letting go of what makes you sad.”

Read More

Elizabeth’s Letter

By Michelle Hill, Safe Harbor Community Counselor

Forgiveness is a powerful means towards healing for victims of domestic violence, yet it is an extremely difficult process. After participating in months of Safe Harbor counseling to heal from the abuse she had suffered for five years from her husband, “Elizabeth” shared during a session that she felt like she needed to forgive her abuser. She told me that she felt that forgiveness was essential in order to recover from her past. Elizabeth did not want to deny or excuse the abuse or to release her abuser from his responsibility.  She wished simply to release herself from the pain of those traumatic experiences that continued to get in the way of her own happiness and peace.

Elizabeth and I talked about forgiveness and what it would mean for her. We discussed ways in which she might be able to reach a sense of forgiveness for her abuser. Elizabeth finds a lot of strength through writing, so I suggested that she write a letter to her abuser that she would never send to him. Through this letter, she could safely express herself to him, fully and honestly. She could write specifically about how he had hurt her, how he had changed her. Most importantly, though, she could express how she had recovered and how she, through forgiveness, would release the emotional grip he had had on her quality of life even after she had ended her relationship with him.

Two weeks later, Elizabeth brought the letter to our session. She read it out loud. She paused several times to take a breath, to cry, to let the memories release. When she was done she released the letter. The experiences she had written about and read about out loud no longer held her captive emotionally, physically, or spiritually. She was freed from the abuse in her past, empowering her to move forward with a sense of strength, peace, and joy in her future.

Below is a portion of Elizabeth’s letter that we are sharing with her permission.  We hope this letter will provide hope to other victims and survivors as they are seeking safety, support and healing along their journey. 

Read More
En Espanol »
Back To Top