We hear about cancer practically everyday, in some form or another on the news. We are constantly being barraged with disturbing death tolls including those of children in places like South Sudan or Syria. And at this point most rational people seem to agree that global warming is indeed happening. Yet, 1 in 3 women in her lifetime will be a survivor of physical violence, sexual violence or stalking in her lifetime. How often do you hear that talked about?
Survivors of intimate partner violence and sexual assault have always held a special place in my heart. I volunteered as a domestic violence crisis counselor at a non-profit agency in Connecticut for three years before I moved to North Carolina. After six months in North Carolina, I was hired to be a coordinator for a team of forty volunteers at a local domestic violence agency. My duties also included serving as a counselor myself and training others on the crisis line. When I left that work after three years to have my daughter, I missed it immensely. Not the bureaucracy or the constant badgering of others to do better by survivors but I missed the clients themselves. Survivors are the most resilient of women. They are smart and intuitive. Determined and resourceful.
Childbirth and the fourth trimester are difficult for most women but can be especially so for survivors.The newness of breastfeeding and having a baby attached to you all the time for long periods of time. Baby keeping you up late hours, making many demands on your body. Your body not feeling like it is your own. And this is after childbirth, where the woman is being told to "relax" and "trust her body"...sometimes impossible tasks for a a survivors whose body may have betrayed her in the past or whose abuser used similar messages to control or hurt her. Can you imagine this?
I learned more and more about the specific challenges that survivors face when they are pregnant and have a baby. The more I learned, the more I realized that I was exactly the right person to support survivors at this most crucial time. My background as a counselor, coach and educator were a perfect fit for my new work as a postpartum doula. From there I decided to specialize in prenatal and postpartum services for survivors including educational trainings for professionals who deal with pregnant women in addition to my programs that are open to all women: Trauma Counseling, Wellness Coaching, New Mamas Groups and more.
Most of my services are open to any woman. But some are specific for survivors. My hope in doing so is that I will not only be able to support women whose unique history is not always considered but also continue to help spread the word.