The Adverse Effects of Domestic Violence Students Never Talk About


The problem I am addressing is raising awareness about what survivors of domestic violence go through. I thought of this project first over the summer when I was trying to find a focus for a nonprofit organization that I wanted to create with my friends. I was at a camp and we were discussing immigration. We were talking about the trafficking visa and what survivors go through as they are forced to cooperate with law enforcement and sent back to their home country when they refuse to do so. Following this approach, I took Positive Psychology and learned how to implement good exercises to inspire people in the Dallas community. A combined effort of taking this course and narrowing the focus of my nonprofit helped me decide that I wanted to help domestic violence survivors. I interviewed the CEO of Genesis and learned that it is one of the few organizations that help survivors. There is a lack of resources in the Dallas community and there is only one male shelter in the entire state of Texas. I think this shows how there is a lack of awareness about how to help domestic violence survivors, and I believed that it was essential to get high school students involved.

Why This Matters To Me:

I reviewed and researched the problem that domestic violence survivors face every day by looking at local news sources online. I found an article talking about the prevalence of domestic violence and the lack of support or funding survivors receive. I have been able to recognize that this problem can be solved through a student-driven organization as students are at the core of change. I believe that through my Catalyst Conference I can generate funding and awareness among the young teens in Dallas. I would also like to inspire other students in my community to raise awareness about other problems affecting the world. Through the Abnormal Psychology GOA, I have been able to see what kinds of treatments are available and which is the most effective. Being able to learn about different mental illnesses like depression has allowed me to have a broader scope of how these different illnesses affect people.

The Challenge:

There are many current challenges with not getting enough support to women living in a violent home. There is not enough funding, resources, or people in order to help everyone in the Dallas community. When interviewing Genesis, I asked what the organization would have if they could be more efficient and helpful. The response was funds. I decided to fully implement the idea that I wanted to start an organization that helped raise money for these organization after hearing this. However, even if these organizations do get the funds, there is also a lack of mental health professionals. Genesis provides therapy to survivors, yet there needs to be a broader focus on helping women who have gone through such a traumatic experience. I learned that survivors can have trauma symptoms and diagnosable PTSD. A multitude of mental health issues arise, and many women undergo depression and anxiety. The purpose of this presentation has been stated to raise awareness. This has two end goals: to help and prevent. This project strives to educate on the trauma survivors go through and the possibility of any women to experience this. 14-20% of women will experience rape in their life. 25-28% will be physically abused in a sexual-romantic relationship. My goal is to spread information on how prevalent abuse in relationships are and the ways we can get involved.

Mental Health Issues:

I’ve mentioned how trauma plays a big role in the mental health of survivors. The Journal of Interpersonal Violence describes it as “virtually endemic in our society.” The journal cites a multitude of mental health issues that include anxiety, depression, cognitive disturbance, post-traumatic stress, dissociation, somatization, sexual problems, substance abuse, and high rates of suicide. These issues vary from person to person and are rarely fully experienced by a survivor all at once. However, the range of mental health issues that arise can be seen here.

The development of PTSD or acute stress disorder are especially jarring, considering that we rarely hear about the PTSD survivors of abuse go through. A lot of the women who undergo domestic abuse are more probable to have experienced it earlier in life and are highly likely to have a serious mental illness. The effects of a form of PTSD, complex PTSD, range from cognitive, somatic, and dissociative disturbance, chronic difficulties in identity and boundary awareness, interpersonal problems, and affect dysregulation.

The treatment used at shelters like Genesis is Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing. This is a form of therapy intervention that places a focus on the body and its triggers. It specifically works to lessen triggers, boost self-esteem, and help the survivor understand their situation. More treatments that help lessen the effects of PTSD are key to help survivors move on.

How To Get Involved:

I will first be talking about Genesis and then my own organization, Lifetwine.

The image shown above is the Genesis Shelter’s website. It’s a local domestic violence shelter that provides legal, medical, and housing services to survivors of domestic abuse. There are a lot of volunteer opportunities and you can help your own community by helping local shelters.

You can also get involved with the nonprofit organization, Lifetwine, I created with my friend. We hand make cards and the proceeds go to shelters like Genesis. It’s student-driven and student-oriented because the organization’s main focus is to raise awareness among students first in order to enact change for domestic violence survivors.

I’m on the left, and my friend Kelly is on the right.

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Works Cited:

Brown, Jorielle R., et al. “Traumatic Stress Symptoms in Women Exposed to Community and Partner Violence.” Journal of Interpersonal Violence, vol. 20, no. 11, 2005, pp. 1478–1494., doi:10.1177/0886260505278604.

Briere, John, and Carol E. Jordan. “Violence Against Women.” Journal of Interpersonal Violence, vol. 19, no. 11, 2004, pp. 1252–1276., doi:10.1177/0886260504269682.

Dutton, Mary Ann. “Pathways Linking Intimate Partner Violence and Posttraumatic Disorder.” Trauma, Violence, & Abuse, vol. 10, no. 3, 2009, pp. 211–224., doi:10.1177/1524838009334451.

Share this project
  1. April 25, 2019 by Ms. Singhvi

    So great to see how this has evolved since Positive Psych last semester! Lifetwine has a great mission and I wish you the best of luck!

    • April 28, 2019 by Sheena Kwon

      Thanks so much!

  2. April 25, 2019 by Camille Neutz

    This is amazing! I love how much you seem to care about this topic and you can see this thought your project. One thing that I would ask, as someone who lives in Seattle, not Dallas, how can I help? Is there a way for me to still be involved in Lifetwine from so far away?

  3. April 26, 2019 by Sheena Kwon

    Yes there is! We don’t have the site fully set up, but hopefully, we will be able to start getting people across the country involved. There are a lot of things you can do– set up clubs in your school that educate people about survivors and make cards that you can sell in your local community! I think once we get our site fully published, we can start selling the cards and anyone can help spread the word in their city!

  4. April 28, 2019 by Maisie French

    Hi Sheena! Your project is amazing and so is the work you are doing. I was wondering how you came up with the idea for Lifetwine? I know you said it started when you were at camp with friends, but I’m just curious where the inspiration sparked to do this?

    • April 28, 2019 by Sheena Kwon

      Thank you! I came up with the idea after I heard about Gendercide. It’s an international organization that uses art and spread awareness to help educate survivors of domestic abuse. I knew I wanted to do something to help further the cause!

  5. April 28, 2019 by Kealia Victorino

    Very interesting page! I found your nonprofit organization Lifetwine to be very inspiring. Additionally, your large scale statistic images were effective in portraying the vast effects of this issue. Other than providing funding for organizations, what are some other ways people can help this cause?

    • April 29, 2019 by Sheena Kwon

      They can help volunteer at local organizations in their community! I think it’s important that different nonprofits get all of the volunteer help they need. Additionally, you can educate your peers on the struggles survivors face and what they can do to help!

  6. April 29, 2019 by Payton.Nesby

    Lots of really great information, and a very in depth approach to such a pressing issue. It is really admirable that you took such initiative after learning about an organization that works on a topic that you are passionate about.

    • April 29, 2019 by Sheena Kwon

      Thank you!

  7. April 30, 2019 by Samira.Kethu

    You did an amazing job on this project Sheena! I love how you’re so passionate about this topic and really took initiative yourself. My project is very similar to yours and my sister and I also have a nonprofit for a very similar cause so it’s really cool to see that many others want to make the same changes we do! Great job!

    • April 30, 2019 by Sheena Kwon

      Thanks, Samira!!

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