My heart sank as I read a recent article on http://www.nj.com related to the murder of 30-year old, Ruth Reyes Severino and her two children from Salem, New Jersey. The news of this untimely death at the hands of her abusive spouse and the Valentine’s Day tradition of chocolate, cards, and flowers can remind us that this time of year isn’t so “rosy” for everyone.
The work I do often puts me in direct contact with women who are recovering from broken relationships as they long to make a new life for themselves despite the shame and turmoil of their past.
It’s not always an easy journey, but “redemption” of what has been lost is achievable. Below are a few things to remember about “rebuilding” one’s life after trauma – a wound of the heart after having experienced/witnessed a deeply painful or distressful event.
Find “safe spaces” to voice the pain of your past. Talking through the difficult things with a trusted friend, counselor, Pastor, or support group can be helpful. Be sure that such resources can provide what you need (good listening, informative, non-judgemental, etc.) while doing your research.
Don’t be afraid to intentionally grieve your losses. This is sometimes difficult for people as cultural beliefs about mourning, crying, and lamenting are seen as signs of weakness or unnecessary complaining.
Take small risks. Add new activities and pursuits as you are led. Join a gym. Enroll in a class. Plan a day trip or extended vacation. Treating oneself to a solo dinner or movie is not such a bad idea, especially when friends are not available.
Remove yourself from unsafe environments when necessary. As in the case of Ruth Reyes Severino, some situations are more dangerous than others. A quick exit plan may be needed in order to protect the livelihood of those experiencing abuse. Staying with relatives or seeking help from a local shelter, police department, or crisis line may prove beneficial to those who are victimized.
I recently had the pleasure to meet with Kim Jones, founder and organizer of the GEM Experience in Trenton, NJ. Her upcoming event in February 2020 will include a panel discussion on mental wellness, domestic violence, and life changing moments just for women.
I’ll be one of the featured panelists and I’m super excited about being able to contribute to this much needed discussion that benefits a diverse group of women. The energy at our initial meet-up was epic as those who will be involved in February had an opportunity to share a bit of their story and their connection to mental wellness. I was able to glean off of the strength in the room as women testified of how they survived and overcame some of the most difficult moments in their lives. Meeting with these beautiful women also reminded me of my “why” concerning the work I’ve done at Healthy Relationships Network for over two years.
It’s always a pleasure to be in the company of focused and like-minded women.
I’m learning more and more that the gathering of women for a cause:
is necessary as there are arising issues and problems that need the creativity, intelligence, passion, and attention of women who are willing to help
can increase the personal morale of women who often feel “alone” or isolated in the work they do
is advantageous for the communities, groups, and individuals served as talents, gifts, and resources are pooled together to enhance the effectiveness of the mission
*How are you working with other women in collaborative and impactful ways? Feel free to share in the comments section.
Exactly two years ago, I had no idea what I was being drawn to. I really didn’t have a clue about “my next big move” or what specifically God wanted me to do in my ministry and service to women. I was compelled to publish a resource – CLICK HERE – that would educate women about God’s view concerning healthy relationships in lieu of the recent reports of increased domestic violence, female-victim assaults, and murders at the hands of vicious perpetrators. My heart was overwhelmed by how young some of the female victims were.
I had to do something… Even if it was just something small…
So I became more active on social media. I wrote inspirational posts, blogged more, and spread the word about an Ebook I’d published about faith and dating. A few months later, I made Healthy Relationships Network official. The year was 2017 and I was gaining some focus about my calling. Since then, I’ve gotten more training while pursuing certification as a Trauma Healing Facilitator. I rented office space, ran support groups, searched out biblical scriptures about how God helps people in need/crisis, and served as a guest speaker at several college campuses, churches, and radio stations. It’s been a journey and God has been so faithful.
I write this post all to say: Believe God when he nudges you to do something bigger than yourself. Small steps matter too.
It’s easy to yield to doubt and fear as the temptation to stay “comfortable” is a reality. I am a living witness that my running shoes were calling my name a few times as I sought to get as far away as I could from this purposeful work. Still I say, the journey has been worth it. It’s worth it because God is with me. He is in the work that I do. I sense his nearness as more people are served and His grace, healing, and love is made more known to those who need to understand that God is on their side.
So here’s to “firsts” – first plans, first meetings, first proposals, first steps toward the call to serve…