Post by Sandra L. Jackson, President & CEO of House of Ruth
Mental health is an issue for everyone, from Olympic athletes to trauma survivors. Treating homelessness and domestic violence survivors for their traumatic injuries as well as their physical ones has always been a priority at House of Ruth. All of our programs are vital; particularly during the twin pandemics of COVID-19 and racial injustice in the United States. What I am thankful for, this year and always, is the therapeutic services we offer at House of Ruth, because we know healing the impact of trauma within is vital to the long-term success and stability of our women, children, and families. Starting in 1998, and every year since, we have employed at least one (and currently four) full-time therapists who are experts in providing trauma-informed, clinical care to survivors of trauma, and domestic violence regardless of gender, ages 16 and up. This is vital because the safe housing is the beginning process of healing the inner wounds as a survivor of trauma and domestic violence. The funding from government, and strong support from donors, allows us to offer this vital support at no cost, without session limits, and without a need for insurance or a diagnosis. This eliminates many of the traditional barriers to therapy ― a ‘diagnosis’ may help insurance pay for therapy, but it can also stigmatize survivors. Without these barriers, our Domestic Violence Support Center (DVSC), serves hundreds of women and men each year.
In the past few years, we have expanded our DVSC services to not only include individual therapy and group therapy (which helps to de-stigmatize therapy) and build up the emotional strength of trauma survivors while also helping build bonds between clients. We are also reaching out to support staff in our organization and others to help them develop self-care practices, as well as always supporting survivors of domestic violence. Survivor comments assessed after two and six months for both individual and group therapies reveal more than 90% report feeling stronger, and more able to face their own challenges, through the support of therapy.
I am grateful that DVSC also helps survivors long after their crises are past. Experiencing trauma or abuse, leaving your home/community, coming to House of Ruth, moving into an unfamiliar home/community, leaving behind all you know, and starting anew are more than enough for most people to deal with at one time. The therapeutic support we offer means that you can access help when you are ready ― not on our timeline. Some clients start work at DVSC as soon as they arrive at House of Ruth ― some former clients reach out years after they have left. Many people helped at DVSC have never been a House of Ruth housing or childcare participant at all. All survivors of domestic violence, or intimate partner violence, regardless of gender are welcome at the Domestic Violence Support Center.
Thank you for supporting this vital service for survivors.