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Local resources offer healing for domestic violence survivors and kids

Posted at 4:02 PM, Oct 30, 2019
and last updated 2019-10-30 19:22:54-04

MILWAUKEE — Domestic violence not only hurts the person being abused it can traumatize kids who witness it, but healing is possible.

Sojourner Family Peace Center brings a team of people together who are ready to help survivors and their families heal from domestic violence. They say that the healing process begins when you ask for help.

"If we've been dropped into a category 5 hurricane. We don't know how we got there, but it is raining, and we can't see. Roofs are flying off and trees are falling and all we want to do is feel safe, that's what domestic violence is like," said Nancy Stone, a licensed psychotherapist with Jewish Family Services.

Jewish Family Services is one of the many partners working with Sojourner Family Peace Center.

Stone says when domestic violence survivors reach out for help she guides them out of that hurricane.

"Certainly the idea that they don't deserve to be afraid in their romantic relationship. They don't deserve to be hurt. And also, it's not their fault," said Stone.

Sadly, kids can get pulled into the chaos of domestic violence.

"If children do not witness it, oftentimes they're hearing about it, they may see the aftermath of it. They may see broken things in the house. They may see bruises. They may see blood or injuries or they may sense that this is going on," said Kelee Dangles, a psychotherapist with Children's Wisconsin.

Dangles adds there are warning signs with children.

"Boys tend to externalize behaviors so they may lash out. You may see them looking aggressive, temper tantrum's and females tend to internalize so you may see them withdrawing. They may be keeping to themselves," said Dangles.

She helps kids rewire their brains to understand healthy coping methods that may have been lost in their exposure to domestic violence.

"We teach them that emotions are normal. It's okay to feel angry. It's okay to feel frustrated or sad, but it's what we do with those emotions," said Dangles.

If you know someone suffering abuse, experts say it's important to listen to them and offer support.

"Provide understanding without advice and without answers because the best answers my clients have are the ones over time, in healing, they come up with themselves," said Stone.