Tuesday, July 11, 2017

The Reminder in the Mirror

I was talking to a domestic violence survivor today. She experienced years of physical and emotional abuse, but 

had the strength and courage to break free and build a new life. We talked about how blessed she feels now, being safe... but there's one thing keeping her from letting go of the haunting memories of the abuse. The mirror. She has scars from numerous abusive incidents and each time she looks in the mirror she's reminded of the actions that left that mark on her body, "The scars are a daily reminder of horrible abuse; they make it hard to be comfortable in my skin and truly have a fresh start."

Advocates aren't the only ones who hear these stories of relived trauma as someone looks in the mirror. Dr. Edwin Williams, a board certified plastic surgeon and owner of The Williams Center has long supported the work of  Wellspring and other domestic violence agencies. In fact their website has a page dedicated to providing a caring response and information for survivors of domestic violence. Below is information from their site.

Whether you are currently in an abusive relationship or still struggling with the memories of past abuse, we can help. Call Wellspring at 518.583.0280 or our 24 hour hotline at 518.584.8188

Domestic Violence

  • Every 9 seconds in the US a woman is assaulted or beaten.
  • Around the world, at least one in every three women has been beaten, coerced into sex or otherwise abused during her lifetime. Most often, the abuser is a member of her own family.
This violence spans across all racial, ethnic, religious, educational and socioeconomic lines. Over five million women a year are affected by domestic violence in the United States; over one million victims require medical treatment. October is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month.
Since 1994 Dr. Edwin Williams a board certified facial plastic surgeon has offered complimentary consultations and cosmetic surgery and reconstructive surgery to victims of domestic violence. As a participating surgeon in the program Face to Face, developed with the national coalition against Domestic Violence, Dr. Edwin Williams along with other facial plastic and reconstructive surgeons throughout the country take a firm stand against domestic violence. Over the past several years Dr. Edwin Williams has helped many women remove the remaining scars caused by an abusive partner. Those wishing to be considered for the complimentary consultations and cosmetic and reconstructive surgery to victims of domestic violence, must meet certain criteria including proof of being out of the abusive relationship for at least one year.
Dr. Edwin Williams hopes that his efforts will bring attention to the issue of domestic violence. It makes him feel good to be able to help these women so that they may feel better about themselves and reclaim their lives to move past the damage that has been done to them. The toll free number is 1-800-842-4546.For news stories featuring Dr. Edwin Williams’ treating domestic violence patients click here.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Sowing Seeds to Start a Conversation about Relationship Abuse

I planted my garden about 10 days ago. While everyone else is complaining miserably about the rain, I’m a little excited (especially when it rains during the week not on the weekend) as I’m sure that with the moisture all my seeds have germinated and probably new shoots are pushing up through the soil right now.  Gardening from seeds takes patience and trust to give the sun time to warm the soil, the seedling time to take root and simply time to grow.  While I don’t like the wait, over the years I’ve come to appreciate the process and accept that I can’t always control the outcome. Like last year’s abundant squash patch that seemingly overnight was decimated by powdery mildew.

Sometimes these small scale dramas in the garden, remind me of the much more significant struggles people face when someone they love is experiencing domestic violence. Often the victim of abuse doesn’t recognize the behaviors his/her partner’s actions as abusive… especially we when the abuse isn’t physical.  Sometimes just talking to your loved one and letting them know you’re concerned is like planting that seed. They may seem to totally ignore your words, but like the week of straight rain we just endured that helps my seeds germinate, under the right conditions your words may begin to root.

The decision to seek support is rarely immediate. Here are some of the reasons people give for not seeking help:

·         “It’s not that bad.” Often this is followed by words like, “It’s rarely physical” or “It’s nothing like I’ve seen in the movies” or “He/she always apologizes and says it won’t happen again.”

·         “It’s not a crisis, I don’t need to call a hotline.”

·         “I wouldn’t feel right calling a place like Wellspring. Other people need their help so much more than I do.”

·         “I really don’t see any way out.” Or “I’m not ready to make a change yet. I’ll call them when that time comes.”

·         It’s not that I’m afraid of my partner; I just have to do a better job not aggravating him/her.”

·         “They help domestic violence victims… I’m not a victim.” Often the person will explain, that they’re occasionally abusive too, e.g., “Sometimes I yell or call him/her awful names… and I’ve hit back so I’m just as guilty of abuse.”  

If you’ve heard any of these statements, here’s what I’d like you to know, so you have the words to help your friend:

You don’t need to be in a crisis. You don’t need to be in danger or living in fear. You don’t need to wait in until a crisis where you don’t have anywhere else to turn before you call us… in fact, at Wellspring, we hope that calling us sooner may mean you never experience that crisis. We so often hear survivors saying, “I used to always feel like I was walking on eggshells at home.” Yes, they kept the abuse from escalating… by continually living in a state of hyper-vigilance. Our agency is a place where you can talk about these feelings. We can help you create a safety plan, but we can also be a safe place where you give voice to those feelings you don’t speak out loud… maybe not even to yourself. Our services are free and confidential… and they’re for everyone. There’s no income eligibly guidelines for our services.

You don’t need to be preparing to leave to seek our services. In fact, we have many survivors who remain in the relationship. They come to us to understand how to increase their safety, to know what their legal rights/ options/resources are if needed, or to build their economic stability or support systems so even if they’re remaining in the relationship they’re not doing so because they feel trapped. Many people understand that we offer a hotline and shelter, but they’re unaware of the other services we offer: financial literacy training to support economic stability, rent subsidized housing, legal advocacy, 911 phones, and assistance with accessing employment, childcare, housing, transportation, or other basic needs. Because it takes time to be on solid ground financially after leaving abuse, supports like our food pantry, personal care items, Backpacks of Hope (school supplies to start the new year) and New Beginnings Baskets (filled with necessary household items) can help survivors make a fresh start or support them until they finally feel stable and secure.

Survivors may judge their own reactions, verbal or physical as indicators that they too are abusive. Some relationships are indeed mutually abusive. But in domestic violence there is an underlying power and control dynamic. Does that mean the victim is always cowering, helplessly… no. Survivors may, in defense, frustration or anger, lash out sometimes. To determine if domestic violence exists one needs to ask is there an ongoing pattern of control, either through emotional, psychological, physical, or financial abuse, or social isolation. It’s the pattern of power and control… not necessarily an isolated behavior.

 So if the examples above sound like behaviors you recognize in the relationship, call us. If you weren’t sure how to talk to someone you love about domestic violence, hopefully this information will help you start the conversation.  Sometimes hearing someone say, “I care and I’m worried” plants a seed that in time leads to a future without fear. If you’re not sure how to talk to someone about relationship abuse, call us --we can help you understand, know about resources and start the conversation.
If you or someone you know has experienced relationship or sexual abuse, call us.
Office 518.583.0280
24/7 hotline 518.584.8188

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Soroptimist - The Gardens May be Secret, but the Club Is Getting Noticed

This seems to be a busy week for Soroptimist news. Yesterday I posted about their recent recognition at the Regional level for Project Hope and Power. And now  3 more exciting announcements!

Today I attended Saratoga Today's Women of Influence luncheon, where longtime Soroptimist Lyn Whaley  was honored for all she's done for our community:
  • her many leadership roles over the past 17 years in the Saratoga Springs School District
  • running a family business, Cudney's Cleaners that gives back so much to the community
  • her commitment to her faith community, and
  • of course her volunteerism and leadership in Soroptimist. On behalf of  all our Soroptimist club members, I can say we're  all proud of Lyn's accomplishments and delighted she's been recognized as a Woman of Influence.

Secret Gardens Trou 2017While most of us an only aspire to be as impactful as Lyn, here's a couple of easy ways we can all support women and girls. Soroptimist International of Saratoga County has been supporting Wellspring's mission since the founding of the agency. The Club's signature service project is a collaborative initiative with Wellspring, a financial literacy program, Project Hope and Power, that has benefited more than 600 women since 2005. Soroptimist provides financial support for Project Hope and Power, plus more than $45,000 to  other programs locally and globally  that benefit women and girls. They've got 2 great fundraisers coming up;  a  benefit book fair at Northshire Bookstore   and their Secret Garden Tour. So buy that book you've been thinking about and catch up on your summer reading or tour some wonderful local gardens... and help women and girls at the same time.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Giving Hope... Giving Power-- That's Soroptimist

I'm proud to have been a Soroptimist for the past 11 years. What's Soroptimist? It's an international service organization dedicated to  improving the lives of women and girls through programs leading to social and economic empowerment. Need a simpler explanation-- Soroptimist  promotes what's Best for  Women.

The Club quietly does really impressive work in our local community but also globally. This year alone the Club has provided more than $45,000 in project support to 22 organizations benefiting women and girls. Local organizations supported included: the Adult and Senior Center of Saratoga, Alcohol and Substance Abuse Prevention Council, Ballston Area Community Center, Bridging People and Places, Camp Abilities, Dance Alliance (MOVE), Fast Break Fund, Franklin Community Center, Habitat for Humanity, Jr Achievement, Literacy NENY, Rebuilding Together Saratoga County, Saratoga Center for the Family, Saratoga County EOC, Saratoga Foundation for Innovative Learning, Saratoga Regional YMCA, Saratoga War Horse, Shelters of Saratoga, Soul Saving Station, To Life! Inc., Wellspring, and Wilton Wildlife Preserve.
Project Hope and Power tri-chairs Maggie, Laurie and Alice with Club president Charlotte
displaying our 2017 Celebrating Success Award from the North Atlantic region
Like many local organizations, Soroptimist International of Saratoga County works tirelessly, but very quietly, fulfilling their mission without much fanfare. Their efforts don't go unnoticed though. Recently our Club was presented the North Atlantic Region's Celebrating Success Award for its exemplary work helping women achieve financial empowerment, through their signature service project, Project Hope and Power.  Today, more than 600 women have achieved housing, employment and improved financial stability by participating in Project Hope and Power.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Tee off to Support TSA

One of my favorite things about working in this community is how intensively all our human service agencies collaborate. We address a range of social issues and human needs that at time can seem daunting... but by working together we maximize our resources to help the most people with limited funds. Because we work so closely, I'm blessed to experience firsthand every day the fine work of partner agencies.
With the warm weather finally here, I know many folks thoughts are returning to their golf game. So here's a chance to get back on the green... and support a nonprofit organization that offers assistance every day to some of our most vulnerable citizens.                           
For over 40 years, Transitional Services Association (TSA)  has provided a broad range of residential support and care management services to adults with psychiatric disabilities and/or substance use disorders, and abused & neglected children. Today, TSA is staffed by approximately 100 employees, and provides services to more than 400 clients in our community.  On September 11, 2017 TSA will hold its 7th Annual Golf Tournament, the proceeds of which will directly support and enhance our ability to provide recovery and support services to the people we serve.
I hear they've arranged for  excellent weather, so gather your foursome for a great day of golf while supporting TSA.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

A Tragedy in Hadley Starts the Conversation

As the news broke today that the husband of the woman found dead in Hadley last week has been arrested, I’ve had many people calling me with questions or just talking about how tragic and unbelievable this is. So here are some of the things we’ve been talking about today:


·        Domestic violence is far more prevalent than most of us think. In fact 1 in 4 women and 1 in 7 men ae a victimized during the course of their lives. In Saratoga County, it’s the #2 violent crime  (second only to drunk or drugged driving), the primary cause of family homelessness, and the primary cause of homicide. People are really surprised when I give these statistics, often stating that they’ve never known anyone who has experienced domestic violence. Chances are good you do… you just may know it. Often we’re looking for obvious physical indicators, like black eyes or bruises. Abuse tactics like emotional or psychological control, social isolation, financial control, and sexual abuse aren’t as easily identified.  In fact, victims themselves may minimize the abuse, “Well, I’ve never been hit so this isn’t domestic violence”, or “I read a news story about what one woman experienced. What I’m experiencing isn’t that bad.” Some highly abusive relationships never have any physical abuse; don’t let this be the standard that keeps you from seeking help.

·        “I’m not in a crisis and I’m not thinking of leaving the relationship, so there’s no need to seek support.” Wellspring’s advocates and our 24/7 hotline (518-584-8188) can help in a crisis, but we’re also there simply when you need to talk. Many clients choose to remain in the relationship; they just want to explore their options, and plan for how to be safe in their relationship.

·        “He’s such a good dad (or she’s such a good mom); the children are better off if we’re together.” Roughly 50% of abusers target their partner, but do not abuse the children directly. Frequently in these situations the parent who is being victimized reasons that the children aren’t affected by the abuse. Often that view changes when the children approach their teens and either they act abusively in their relationships…or are the targets of abuse by a dating partner. While they may not have been directly abused, the children’s understanding of a healthy relationship is shaped by what they see in the home.

·         “I can provide a better life for my kids if I stay.”  Sometimes that parent worries that (s)he couldn’t provide for the basic needs, rent, food, and healthcare.  Supporting a family on one income is a challenge. Wellspring’s advocates can help with petitions for temporary support… and our NewView Housing Program provides a rent subsidy and in-home support services for up to 24 months so that victims can leave abuse to safe homes.

·         “I’m still not sure if I should call.” Ask yourself the following questions.


Does Your Partner:

·        Make you feel afraid much of the time?

·        Act excessively jealous and possessive?

·        Control where you go or what you do?

·        Keep you from seeing your friends and/or family?

·        Threaten to commit suicide if you leave?

·        Threaten to take your children away?

·        Limit your access to money or things like the phone or car?


If this sounds like you or someone you know, call us. We can help.

Office: 518-583-0280

24 hour hotline  518-584-8188



Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Try Thai Next Thursday!

Once again our friends at Bodyworks Professionals are offering a way to feel great while also supporting the work of Wellspring. If you've never tried Thai massage, don't miss the chance!
The  folks at Bodyworks Professionals are great at relaxing tired muscles... and they're really generous. They're giving 100% of your donation to Wellspring to help with our mission to end relationship and sexual abuse.

So give yourself a well deserved treat on Thursday April 27th... and thanks for supporting our work!

Monday, April 17, 2017

This Mothers' Day

Today's blog post is by one of Wellspring's advocates. She shares her thoughts about Mothers' Day as someone who daily hears about how mothers are impacted by domestic violence. 
This Mothers’ Day, we at Wellspring think of our clients who are doing the heartbreaking work of being in an abusive and relationship while parenting their children.  Every day, we hear the worries, concerns and sadness that comes from trying to keep children safe (as well as themselves) when a partner is abusive and controlling.  Leaving the relationship also causes so much turmoil as they must grieve the loss of an intact family, and now navigate the difficult waters of custody and family court.  It is not uncommon for abusers to use children to try to continue to control and punish their partner for leaving.   The strength of these clients is inspiring and on the other side is safety and peace.  So we would like to say Happy Mothers’ Day to all and we will continue our work to support moms who come to us for support and information. Their words touch us and inspire us, every day:

“I feel so sad for my kids…”      “I feel like he is always using the kids, to punish me.”    “My kids come first… I don’t want them to think this is the way men should treat women.”   “My son is beginning to act like my husband…. I know I need to get out and I need to do it safely.”  “Thanks for all your help, I now see a bright future for me and my kids.”    “I really wouldn’t be where I am today without Wellspring’s help. I have my own apartment, my kids are doing awesome and I am moving on.”

Friday, March 24, 2017

Ladies' Day at Artisinal Brew Works Saturday, March 25th

It's cold out, March is hanging on, and the weatherman just dashed your dreams of a sunny warm weekend. Don't lose hope, there's still an opportunity to rescue your weekend fun. Come to  Artisanal Brew Works from noon-3 on Saturday for their Ladies' Day event. In addition to great craft beers, there will be massages, aromatherapy, and vendors including: Jerry's Jewels, Lu Lu Roe, Arbonne and more.

So join us at 41 Geyser Road, Saratoga Springs on Saturday March 25th from noon-3. Do a little shopping, catch up with friends, and get warm from the inside out...  may I suggest their just-released Belgian Red?