New ‘Survivor Well-Being’ program at Crystal Judson includes art therapy
October is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month.
After leaving a situation involving domestic abuse, how does a survivor successfully heal and move on?
The Crystal Judson Family Justice Center (CJFJC) this year launched a new program to help survivors of domestic violence in a more holistic and long-lasting way, says Nadia Van Atter, victim services supervisor for CJFJC.
The agency has always provided crisis intervention, counseling and support groups, but is looking at ways to help survivors not just survive, but thrive.
“Now our program encompasses both emergent crisis intervention and long-term support as clients move through their journey and healing process,” Van Atter says.
Dubbed Survivor Well-Being, the program covers services provided previously, such as counseling through MultiCare Behavioral Health. New to the agency is a support group called Thrive that’s designed to help clients move forward with their lives and reconnect with their communities.
The support group is intended to help survivors once they’re out of a dangerous situation and physical safety is no longer their main concern, Van Atter says. Topics include how the brain reacts to trauma and how to reestablish balance in the home. The group also acts as a connection to other services survivors may benefit from, such as Catherine Place.
“As folks move forward, we’re helping them connect to other services,” Van Atter says.
Another aspect of Survivor Well-Being is all about art: an artist-in-residence program and an art circle.
Lily Waters is the first artist-in-residence and, as a survivor herself, part of the inspiration for the program. Her photography adorns the walls of CJFJC, as well as the Pierce County Superior Court’s protection order screening room. CJFJC is helping her find other places for her art, such as galleries at local colleges.
Waters has also proposed a coffee table book that would help inspire future clients and educate family and friends of survivors. The book will feature survivors’ stories and accompanying portraits of objects connected to their stories, taken by Waters. The book is still in the works, but Van Atter says she hopes to keep a copy in CJFJC’s living room and possibly distribute or sell it.
Another way survivors can get involved in art is a new art circle. It’s a monthly program for now, with 6-8 slots available. Each month has a theme — September was painting and October was mask-making — with light refreshments, conversation and music to create a calming environment.
“It’s just a space for clients to come together and create art and learn to build a community,” Van Atter says.
Overall, the goal of these new services is a more holistic approach to healing, she continues.
“We’re providing support to folks as they reestablish balance in their lives, and giving them the space to learn how to care for themselves,” she says. “That gives people the ability to thrive, to move forward.”
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Roxanne Cooke is our senior content editor and manages Vitals, Kite Strings and Bring Happy Back, plus special projects such as 24 Hours at Tacoma General Hospital and The Healthy Futures Project. She tells stories in words, photos and video. You can reach her at [email protected]More stories by this author