Support Groups at WISE
Interview with Hannah Schunck, Newaygo County Domestic Violence Outreach Coordinator.
Hello Hannah, welcome to WISE!
Thanks! I have been in the area for about 6 years and started at WISE in February, 2021. My education has focused on criminal justice and law enforcement. While I didn’t grow up in the area, I have a good understanding of the culture and how things are organized.
What does WISE do?
WISE helps people experiencing domestic violence/abuse gather up the courage to do what is right for them and find legal aid, housing or emergency shelter, get counseling, find support with others, and more.
WISE covers 3 counties, including Newaygo County. I work often with TrueNorth, West Michigan Legal Aid, Community Mental Health, Community Closet and others. It is a collaborative effort to help a domestic violence survivor become successful with her goals.
Tell me about the WISE support groups.
Mom Power is a virtual class that has a 10 week curriculum. This course was developed by researchers at the University of Michigan. The class gives Moms ideas about ways to better take care of themselves and their children. It includes ideas like setting schedules and boundaries, ideas for how to make those daily chores more efficient, connecting with local resources, and more. Participants will get a book and will find support and ideas from other parents. While this class is currently underway, we are planning future classes.
The Power to Break Free is virtual support group that focuses on survivors who are in or out of an abusive relationship. The group is for victims and survivors of domestic violence to facilitate healing, process the deep-seated trauma of abuse, and find the necessary steps to recovery. Exercises will help to evaluate your relationship, the effect of the abuse, how safe you are, and provide clarity about your situation. This group is currently in session and future groups are being planned.
Behavior patterns can keep people in unhealthy relationships. Pattern changing counseling is available individually with an advocate or in a group setting. WISE offers this curriculum as well as a trauma curriculum at all times for survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault.
Throughout the pandemic we have listened to survivors and what they are telling us is that now, more than ever, they are feeling isolated. Groups are the perfect opportunity to get to know people (and yourself) on a deeper level. Many of our participants have gone on to have close friendships with one another.
If you know someone who could benefit from one of the above groups, please contact me at WISE. While Mom Power and The Power to Break Free currently have sessions in progress, once we get more interest, we will absolutely start additional groups!
Is domestic violence on the rise due to the stresses caused by the pandemic?
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “Approximately 1 in 4 women and nearly 1 in 10 men have experienced intimate partner violence (IPV) sexual violence, physical violence, and/or stalking by an intimate partner during their lifetime.”
And, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), “As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, Americans are required to stay home to protect themselves and their communities. However, the home may not be safe for many families who experience domestic violence, which may include both intimate partners and children. COVID-19 has caused major economic devastation, disconnected many from community resources and support systems, and created widespread uncertainty and panic. Such conditions may stimulate violence in families where it didn’t exist before and worsen situations in homes where mistreatment and violence has been a problem.”
A stay at home order, while helping contain the spread of COVID, could force victims to stay in a dangerous situation.
If someone is experiencing domestic violence or abuse, where should he or she turn?
If someone confides in you that he or she is experiencing domestic violence or abuse, suggest that person call the WISE hotline. If physical abuse is happening, suggest the person call law enforcement.
WISE 24-Hour Hotline
Newaygo County WISE Advocate