The Northwest Arkansas Women’s Shelter provides weekly support groups in English and Spanish for survivors of domestic violence. The support groups are based on the idea that participants working together in a safe, friendly, non-judgmental environment can change their lives for the better. The program provides a safe, gentle, and effective way for survivors to express and release painful feelings, and to overcome the abusive messages that they learned from their abusers. The format is a self-help group run in 1 and ½ hour sessions over the period of 12 weeks. Individuals who are referred to the group are under no pressure whatsoever to attend every session. Both self-referrals and agency referrals are accepted.
The three main aims of the support group are:
- To learn about healthy patterns of behavior within relationships
- To raise awareness of a person’s basic rights
- To build self-esteem, self-determination, and empowerment
Domestic violence includes physical, sexual, physiological, or financial abuse that takes place within an intimate or family-type relationship and forms a pattern of coercive and controlling behavior. Nearly three out of four or 74% of Americans personally know someone who is or has been a victim of domestic violence according to 2013 statistics found by the Domestic Violence Resource Center.
Survivors often draw strength and benefit from interaction with other survivors of abuse. Support groups increases participants’ understanding of the dynamics of abusive relationships by working through the weekly activities; and by sharing their experiences with other members, participants’ feelings of shame, guilt, and loneliness diminish. For the group to function effectively, however, participation must be an autonomous choice.
We are proud to offer such an important service free of charge to all victims of domestic violence who wish to join one of our support groups.