One year ago I had the idea to collect stories from survivors of domestic violence and put them into a book. The focus of this project is not to make money, but to make a difference in a fight that is so near and dear to my heart. Being a clinician who has done a large amount of group work, one thing I have found to be amazingly true is that we learn more from other people who have been through the same thing than “experts.” That is a major reason that I wanted to do the project, but there was another as well, and that is the feeling of hopelessness and being alone that so often accompanies abuse. In group work what I have often observed, whether it is myself or another group leader, saying “you are not alone” cannot compare to another person saying, “I know what you mean” or “I feel the same way.”
Over the past year I have met and spoken with an amazing group of survivors of domestic violence who all had inspiring stories to tell which became a part of the Stories of Survivors project. I also spoke with a few family members who had stories which did not have the happy endings of other stories; a mom who lost her daughter is the one that stuck with me the most. I started out thinking that this should be inspiring and all the stories would have a happy ending, but after talking with some of the women, I realized I needed to include those sadder stories too. That is the reality of domestic violence, not every person leaves an abusive relationship and not every person survives the abuse. This reality needed to be a part of the book since some who read it will need that wakeup call that YES it is abuse and YES you need to leave.
Another thing I didn’t realize when I first started this project was the fact that this book could amplify the Changing Patterns group therapy program that we are planning to use in our shelter and one many other shelters have contacted us about. Where the homework done in the group sessions focuses on the therapy side directly along with using Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) interventions, the stories in the book are something that can be used to give examples or encourage side discussions which can help with the bonding of group members, which is so important in group work.
The book is now in the proofreading stage; catching all those little mistakes that might have been made by the contributors (and myself as well.) The option of pre-ordering the book is available. As we near the end of the process, we are also close to the shelter being a reality and the profits will be donated to Acts of Random Kindness (ARK) as a much-needed funding source to get the doors to the shelter open and keep them that way.
I have recently begun contacting other shelters about the book and offering bulk rates so these books are not only helping ARK in the fight against domestic violence, but also helping other organizations get the books into the hands of those who so desperately need to read these stories. These stories show there is a way out, there is hope and there is a future after abuse.
If you are looking for a way to help in the fight to end domestic violence, help a friend who is in an unhealthy relationship, or work for a shelter and looking for new material, order your copy or copies today.
Justin Nutt, LMSW