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.
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.
Take a Quiz!
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.