Counseling and therapeutic services help survivors healWritten by Piper Stege Nelson
Jessica* was referred to counseling at SAFE by the Austin Police Department following a horrific incident of domestic violence earlier this year. For Jessica and survivors just like her, SAFE provides imperative and timely counseling and therapeutic services.
Due to the nature of the violence and her subsequent trauma symptoms, Jessica was able to have her first session at SAFE just one week after the assault. Over the following months, the SAFE counselor worked with Jessica to restore her sense of internal and external safety, decrease her feelings of guilt and shame, and lessen her trauma symptoms.
When the criminal case against Jessica’s abuser was set for a jury trial in early October, Jessica was terrified to testify against her abuser. Her SAFE counselor worked with Jessica and was able to effectively use EMDR, short for Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing, which is a type of therapy that enables people to heal from the symptoms and emotional distress associated with trauma.
The counselor not only helped prepare Jessica for her court appearance, but also accompanied Jessica to court and had the honor of witnessing her courageously speak truth to power from the witness stand. Based on Jessica’s testimony, the jury found the abuser guilty on charges of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and sentenced him to over 15 years in prison.
Jessica continues to heal, but working with the SAFE counselor so quickly after her trauma had a huge positive impact on her.
NOTE: EMDR is an advanced therapeutic technique that several SAFE counselors and therapists are trained to use. SAFE counselors are utilizing this technique in both individual and group therapy settings, and conducting EMDR sessions in both English and Spanish. You can learn more about EMDR here.
*name changed to protect survivor’s identity