Written by Anne Kirkner, The SAVA Center Staff
The SAVA Center started running a group at Fort Collins Rescue Mission after speaking with April Kenney, the women’s program director. She is always looking to connect the women in her program to community resources. When we talked about a partnership between our agencies, it was clear to me how much April cares about the women at the Mission and how hard she works to find new programming. We decided a weekly educational process group about interpersonal violence and power would be the best fit for the women.
We know that homeless women experience disproportionately high rates of interpersonal violence- sexual, physical, emotional, verbal, and financial abuse- in their lifetimes. Being without stable housing makes it incredibly difficult to find safety and stability in one’s life. It is also impossible to begin to heal from trauma when your housing situation is in flux.
I initially reached out to April to make our services accessible to women experiencing homelessness as it is often hard for them to come to our offices. As an advocacy group, we want to make our programs and resources accessible.
Many of the women I met at the Mission have already done tremendous work in healing from trauma and are managing to balance caring for and connecting with family, finding jobs, and saving money all at the same time. These tasks demand enormous amounts of focus and patience- traits I have witnessed in every woman I’ve met at the Mission.
Each week our group focuses on looking at the roots of violence and hurting and locating ourselves and our own struggles in the bigger picture. Sessions include topics like self-care and coping recognizing signs of abuse; power and control in society; the roots of oppression in society; the role of media; and how to start making a difference in our lives and our communities. This deeper look at where violence comes from is the focus of many of SAVA’s educational programs. We encourage people to gain this knowledge and adopt their own critical lens of the power dynamics around them. We believe this is how change happens.
Each week I am struck by the wisdom and resilience of every person in the room. I walk away having learned something new each time. And I’m really grateful SAVA and the Mission has started this partnership. We hope it is one that lasts a long time.