This grant is to support victims and survivors’ access to critical assistance and treatment for substance use and addiction when staying in our domestic violence emergency shelter located in Somerset County.
Family Violence Project works very hard to provide trauma-informed services to the individuals who come to us. We work hard to meet women where they are but sometimes it’s very difficult for the women to live in a communal living space. We worked with a woman who had children who were grown and not living with her. She came to the shelter initially with a long history of domestic violence and trauma, and with an addiction to opioids. Over several years she repeatedly came to us and would leave after only a few short weeks. This was her pattern, and with every safety plan staff included a plan for her to come back, should she leave and find herself in an unsafe situation. The third time she left the shelter she ended up living with the father of her children, who was very abusive. She reached out, tentatively, the fourth time and asked to come back. She came back with a purpose we hadn’t seen with her. She said she was ready to make some changes in her life, and she made those changes. She was with us for over 8 months and in that time, with the help of advocates and her team, and Kennebec Behavioral Health, she learned all the tools necessary to live a life free of opioids. She completed both Living in Balance and Seeking Safety, she set up and maintained appointments with a therapist and a support system she found through a 12-step program. She recently checked in to share with us an update and to thank us for the services she was able to access with us. She is now fully immersed with her daughter and her grandchildren, who she had once not been allowed to see. She is working as a dog groomer, which she said was a dream she always had.
The Covid-19 Pandemic shook the way the world operated, including our agency. Another person recently shared this with our shelter director: “I was afraid to come here because I didn’t know if I could be safe from the virus and my partner. I grudgingly came to shelter but I’m so glad I did now. Your advocates have shown compassion, patience, and caring in a time in this world where you don’t see it in many places. And, for that, I’ll be forever grateful. I just want to tell you how wonderful the advocates are and that we SEE how hard they are working to keep us all safe.”
These two stories exemplify just how effective the Somerset Domestic Violence Shelter and Healthy Recovery Program is at supporting those who are affected by substance use and receive services that work towards recovery. Survivors of domestic violence already have their lives shaken up due to abuse. Our program provides a space where folks can be safe and work through undoing unhealthy coping mechanisms used to survive trauma with the support of health providers and victim advocates.