By Mara Koch
Special to The PREVIEW
Domestic violence doesn’t just leave physical scars, but also deeper emotional scars that linger far beyond the violating incident. Whether it is a single incident or years of abuse, the emotional aftermath affects victims in a myriad of subtle and not so subtle ways and for years to come.
Fortunately, Rise Above Violence has provided services for survivors of domestic violence for over 20 years in Archuleta County.
Its ongoing Families Above Violence free women’s support group empowers women to rise above the victimization and unhealthy relationships and to enter a place of thriving within their families, relationships and lives. It provides hope that there is another way to be in relationship with one’s self, children and partner.
This ongoing weekly support group offers a safe place for women to discuss the physical and emotional trauma they have experienced, as well as to explore new ways of interacting in relationships and feel a greater sense of empowerment in their lives.
The women who have participated have found a group of women to trust and cheer them along in their own healing process. Women who understand and can relate to what they have experienced, and who want the same thing as them — to be the best person and parent they can be and to feel safe and respected in their lives.
Common themes that are explored in the group include healthy boundaries and setting limits, effective co-parenting, identifying “red flags” of unhealthy relationships and positive problem solving to create healthier relationships for the future.
According to one participant, “With two-plus years of participating in Rise Above Violence, I have 1) learned to acknowledge and understand the physiological changes to my brain and process my trauma, 2) to identify boundaries and self care and react to boundary breaches, 3) process with healing and reclaiming my life, and 4) start to release my years of tears and profound grief.”
This free weekly support group began Monday, Sept. 24. The group meets every week into November from 6 to 7:30 p.m. at Aspire, 602 South 8th St. Conveniently, a separate children’s group meets at the same time and provides art support for children ages 5-12 years. This free resource provides essential support for women, and their children, as they heal from any sort of abuse or violence in a relationship. Women are welcome to attend any session and drop-ins are welcome. Call the group facilitator, Mara Koch, at 946-2255 for more information.
October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Join Rise Above Violence throughout the month to lift up the voice of victims and survivors in our community.
On Oct. 2, October will be proclaimed Domestic Violence Awareness Month both for Archuleta County and the Town of Pagosa Springs. Come stand with us during these meetings to show community support. Those proclamations will be at 1:30 p.m. at the Archuleta County Board of County Commissioners meeting and at 5 p.m. at the Pagosa Springs Town Council meeting.
You can also view the clothesline project all through the month of October, at Town Hall Oct. 1-12 and Oct. 15- 31 at the Ruby M. Sisson Memorial Library.
If you or someone you know is in a violent relationship, please call our 24/7 hotline at 264-9075 to receive free support and information. A crisis advocate can come to you if you need help finding a place to be safe. If you have other questions or need information, you can reach the office at 264-1129 during normal business hours.
Women’s group brings healing to survivors of domestic violence
By Mara Koch