YWCA provides safety, resources for survivors of intimate partner violence

With February being the official month of love and bad rom-coms, it’s hard to remember that intimate partner violence is just as likely to occur on Valentine’s Day as any other day of the year. The YWCA of Pierce County works 24/7 to provide support for survivors and their children as they recover and rebuild their lives.  Unfortunately, conversations about intimate partner violence are often confusing and unconstructive, leading to victim blaming and survivors questioning the validity of their experience.

“Intimate partner violence is important to talk about because it’s incredibly complicated and there are a lot of misconceptions surrounding it. The more people know about intimate partner violence and the many different forms it can take, the safer our community becomes,”  Jayne Berglund, the volunteer and resource coordinator for Pierce County YWCA, said.

Berglund emphasized the importance of supporting and protecting survivors, especially since the likelihood of being killed by an abuser increases by 75 percent when they do attempt to leave. When a survivor confides in a trusted friend or family member, the best thing they can do is believe and support them.

The YWCA also provides housing for survivors, their children, and even their pet; a factor many survivors face when deciding what steps to take to leave their current situation is whether they can bring their animals to a shelter. Recently the YWCA was able to renovate their emergency shelter, expanding the number of beds available and making the space beautiful and welcoming. The staff at the YWCA works tirelessly to bring support to survivors throughout the community.

This past October the YWCA created Voices of Courage, a monologue event hosted here on the University’s campus at Kilworth Chapel. The monologues were an opportunity for the community to engage with real stories of abuse and confront their own conceptions of what it means to live through intimate partner violence.

“The night of the performances, we had a full house that included a lot of familiar and unfamiliar faces and I think one of the greatest takeaways from that was that, yes, we do have a supportive community and yes, our community cares about ending domestic violence.” Berglund also said she was in awe of the women who wrote the stories that were performed, they came to the event and stood up at the end; before that the stories referenced either pseudonyms or anonymous authorship.

Voices of Courage was the first of its kind in terms of events up on by the YWCA, and like their other projects, aims to support survivors in every way possible.

The YWCA works constantly to reach members of the community in need, and provide survivors with resources to heal and rebuild. Volunteers are always welcome in a variety of positions. Information is available at http://www.ywcapiercecounty.org/volunteer-opportunities.

There are opportunities available on campus as well, for those interested in being part of the process for creating safe spaces on the University’s campus.

Article by Grace Cook