Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Happy New Year

We look forward to the new opportunities that await us in this coming year. I always start the new year with hope and anticipation of things to come, and this year is no exception.

We are doing amazing things at Hope House. I feel incredibly blessed to have the opportunity to work with so many fantastic people and to help our clients transform their lives.

I continue to be in awe of the strength of those who have been affected by domestic violence and their perseverance to not only survive, but to thrive.

We have had an eventful year and I know the upcoming year will hold many surprises and wonderful new things for all of us.

I wish you all a Happy New Year filled with many blessings!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Life After Shelter

Picture by Jonathan D.Bloom at

I am often asked how we help people once they move out of our shelter.

That answer will depend on what level of involvement a client wants to have with us and what needs she has. We will continue to work with clients as long as they want to receive our support and services.

Any client leaving our shelter can access our outreach therapy services, both group and individual for both herself and her children. We are able to offer our Transitional Housing program to some of our clients, which is extremely helpful for those who are facing obstacles related to employment and housing.

If a client is struggling and needs temporary assistance with food, clothing or other necessities, we can help with that as well, and hopefully prevent a crisis from occurring.

We can assist clients leaving shelter with items that will help them set up their new homes. We are fortunate to have a caring community that blesses us with donations of furniture and household items.

We will work with clients on an individual basis and try to assist them with whatever their needs are. If we are not able to help them, we will work to find someone that can. We are known for being creative and figuring out solutions to the problems presented.

One of the most heart-warming things we can do for our clients is the Holiday Store. Moms and kids get to shop for holiday gifts for each other, and it’s free because our community has donated all the gifts.

The kids are thrilled when they get to choose something nice for their moms. And the moms are usually in tears, knowing that their kids might not have had a Christmas without the Holiday Store.

If you’d like to help us help our clients have a brighter holiday, please see our Holiday Store wish list. We are especially in need of gifts for teens and moms. Our store opens this weekend, so we’re ready to start stocking the shelves. 

Thank you for caring about these woman and children that you’ll never meet. Especially at the holidays, you make all the difference in their lives.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Pre/Postnatal Support Group

Today’s guest blogger is Tracy Pickering, Prevention Specialist for Hope House.

Research has shown that women in domestic violence relationships are 25% more likely to experience postpartum depression, increasing to 60% if the woman is in shelter. 

Birth Trauma
One of the newer areas of treatment of postpartum depression is birth trauma. Birth trauma is post-traumatic stress that occurs following the birth of a baby. It can be the result of:

  • a history of domestic or sexual violence
  • non-consensual or forced pregnancy
  • having the abusive partner in the delivery room
The symptoms resemble other types of post-traumatic stress including:
  • nightmares
  • flashbacks of the birth
  • detachment from the baby
In one case, a mom reported having flashbacks of sexual abuse she experienced as a child every time she looked at her baby. I have had several women report being so depressed after the birth of their baby that they thought about killing themselves and their child.

Pre/Postnatal Support Group Formed
In light of this, Hope House started a pre/postnatal support group. We’ve found that the support the clients receive from each other is the most important element. The group offers an opportunity for the women to honestly discuss their feelings about their pregnancy and not feel judged. They seem amazed that other women have the same feelings.

The group offers a supportive environment to discuss the pros/cons of keeping the child, or offering the baby for adoption, without any judgment or guilt.

The clients can discuss their fear of how they will take care of a baby when they don’t have finances to support the children they already have, embarrassment that they are having another child in the circumstances they are in, and their confusion about how the abusive partner will fit into their child’s life.

It is a powerful experience to see the women start to embrace the pregnancy instead of trying to run from it. It is highly important that moms resolve these issues before the birth so that they can be present and focused on the baby, creating the safest, most bonded environment possible.