LifeWire offers individual advocacy and weekly support groups for children and youth who have witnessed abuse in their homes as well as for teens who have experienced violence in their own dating relationships. Often youth join our support groups because a parent is participating in LifeWire’s services or because they participated in one of our workshops in their school or community group. In 2017, 311 children and youth participated in LifeWire’s support groups.
When Abby, age 8, entered our transitional housing program this summer, she was so excited to finally have a stable place to call home. After bouncing from shelter to shelter, she and her mom were finally able to settle down long enough to decorate her room and make real connections. Abby is one of the friendliest kids I’ve ever worked with, but the years of instability made her nervous, self-conscious and anxious to please. It’s been a joy to watch her grow comfortable enough to show her bright personality to the other children and adults here, and we’ve worked consistently in the children’s group and one-on-one to build her self-confidence.
One week in March, the children’s group members made vision boards for their rooms by choosing words that would inspire and motivate them. We went through nearly 150 words and I asked them to consider which qualities they felt they already had and which they wanted to have on their boards to encourage them. Most of the other kids chose just a few words, but Abby enthusiastically nodded and grabbed almost every word as we read and defined them. Her vision board ended up being huge—the largest piece of cardboard I had could barely contain all of the qualities she knew she contained.
After group, she excitedly took her board back to her mom and proudly showed her and the other ladies in the house each word. It was so heartwarming to see her in action, confidently describing herself in such positive terms.
One in 15 children is exposed to domestic violence each year. As teens, 1 in 3 will become involved in an abusive relationship with a dating partner. Since 2012, LifeWire has seen an increase in the number of children and teens seeking support as a result of domestic violence. We’ve made it our mission to begin enhancing our programs to meet this increased demand for youth services.
Would you stand between a shot gun and a violent man to save your mother? Could you survive fear, humiliation and horrific violence to make a success of your life? These are just a few of the many choices that survivors of domestic violence who come to LifeWire have to face. You’d be surprised to find out who has had to make these heartbreaking decisions.
“It’s true,” says Q13 News Assistant Director Liz Rocca. “I am a survivor of domestic violence. I don’t often tell my story. At 7 years old I had developed a system for survival to protect my mother and sister that haunts me to this day. When I was a child, no one ever asked me if everything was OK at home. It takes a tremendous amount of courage to live through domestic violence.” Today, LifeWire is here to help.