Many TK residents come from homes where they witnessed or experienced domestic violence. This is why we respect and recognize the importance of observing Domestic Violence Awareness month.
TK dedicated the week of Oct. 29, to involving residents and staff in multiple activities focused on this theme. Some were hands-on such as trauma aware yoga, while others were more informative in nature such as the “Healthy Relationship” talk provided by Samantha Gehrig, domestic violence speaker from Guardian Angel Community Services.
Residents of each lodge formulated a declaration of independence from domestic violence. Then, they gathered at the fire pit for a Letting Go ceremony in which this declaration was read by the whole community, a group of survivors standing together in agreement. In the Letting Go part of the ceremony, the pain and heartbreak caused by domestic violence was symbolically given over to the flames of the fire. This came in the form of hateful messages from abusers written on notes, journals filled with stories of horrendous violence, and a pair of jeans that reminded one woman of both her abuser and her eating disorder.
The Clothesline project was notable for giving residents a “voice.” Symbolic messages were drawn or painted on white t-shirts; these represented their own involvement in domestic violence or that of another survivor. Several women disclosed experiences and emotions on their shirt that they had never verbalized before. These shirts were then hung between trees on TK pathways. Residents wanted everyone to bear witness, not only to their pain and trauma, but also to their emerging power and voice.
This week proved an amazing time of transformation and healing for our residents. In the months and years to come, TK will continue to promote awareness, education and prevention of violence within the home.