St. David’s Foundation Helps Survivors Heal

Written by Julia Null Smith, Senior Director of Marketing & Communications

When survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault come to SafePlace, they find a safe and therapeutic environment of healing. Our Counseling Services department offers extensive group, individual, and family counseling options to anyone in Austin/Travis County who needs them, whether they are living at SafePlace or in the community.

This array of no-cost counseling options includes specific groups – offered in English and Spanish – for male survivors, survivors of sexual assault, and survivors of domestic violence. Group work allows survivors to end their isolation and begin to heal in connection with others. In 2012, the Counseling Services department served more than 1,600 people.

We couldn’t offer these services without generous partners like the St. David’s Foundation. Supporters of counseling at SafePlace since 2007, the Foundation recently announced a two-year, $580,000 grant that will support the ongoing operations of the Counseling Services department and provide bilingual (both American Sign Language and Spanish) staff.

In addition, the St. David’s Foundation grant includes funding for training in attachment theory. Secure attachment is the foundation of a healthy parent-child relationship, but because many of our adult clients were abused as children, they don’t have personal experience to draw from when it’s time to form secure attachments with their children. Training an adult survivor of child abuse how to form secure attachments may be one of the most critical steps we can take to break the cycle of violence in future generations. Thanks to the St. David’s Foundation, our counselors will receive additional training on working with attachment issues.

Research shows that counseling decreases the risk of future victimization, and it gives survivors the tools they need to move beyond the violence and trauma they have experienced. A former client reached out to us recently, and said “The time I spent in the group therapy sessions truly changed my life. I think a lot about the other women I met in therapy and I carry a lot of the lessons I learned with me in my relationships today.”

Thanks to the St. David’s Foundation for their partnership in this life-changing work.