Hanover Safe Place

Promoting Freedom from Sexual and Domestic Violence

Stress Relief Tools

Stress. It is all around us. The pandemic has brought extreme stress with the crisis, and many of us have been experiencing social stress due to the pandemic as we are coping with disconnection, isolation, and loneliness. However, stress doesn’t just come in the form of a crisis, and sometimes stress isn’t always a bad thing. Stress is in our daily lives. It is present when we go to work, as we do homework, before a game or presentation, the start a new relationship, when we oversleep, or even in traffic. 

When our minds recognize something as stressful, we may notice that we feel on edge, focused, anxious, alert, frustrated, full of adrenaline, or even just feel the need to “do something”. There are also many changes happening to our bodies. These are things such as: breathing changes, being faster and shallow, hormones are released, our heartbeat changes, our digestion slows, muscles tense, and our pupils dilate. Physically, “stress affects all systems of the body including muscles, respiratory, cardiovascular, endocrine, gastrointestinal, nervous and reproductive systems.” 

Stress results from environmental or physical pressures that provoke a response. It involves our perception of those pressures, our perceived ability to meet those pressures, and our psychological, physiological, and behavioral responses. Stress also happens when we perceive something to be a threat that is challenging our internal systems. Our response to stress is in our hardwiring and helps us to survive. 

We get through these stressful moments every day and most often, successfully. Then, there are the times where we get overwhelmed by stress and may struggle. When stress is positive, it can motivate us. It can help us to accomplish goals or tasks and be accountable. It can be challenging, of course, but the end result can bring us satisfaction and even joy. 

Though, when stress is chronic or disrupts our daily life, is when it can become harmful and unhealthy. It can negatively impact many parts of our lives, including our ability to focus, our mood, our immune system, the way we function at work or school, how we sleep or eat, our relationships, and our bodies. 

When impacted by stress – there are many things we can do to help our mind and body. These are things that we can do to let ourselves know that the threat has passed, that we are capable, and that we can handle things that may come our way. Remember, taking care of ourselves is personal and what works for you may not work for someone else. It’s okay, and important for us to listen to what our bodies tell us!

This month we’ve shared a few activities that can aid us in coping with stress by helping us to calm, relax, refocus, and ground.

Calm:

Slow and deep breathing can help signal to our body’s nervous system to calm down. When we are stressed or overwhelmed, we are often on high alert and our systems can feel at maxed. Breathing can help lower our physiological activation.

**if you feel lightheaded or dizzy – you can always stop or shorten the counts to adjust so that it works for you and eases any discomfort – just remember slow breaths that are in through your nose and out through your mouth

Box Breathing  

You can do box breathing in these steps – first exhale the air from your lungs – begin by slowing inhaling through your nose for 4 counts – hold your breath for 4 counts – exhale slowly from your mouth for 4 counts – hold your breath for 4 counts – exhale from your mouth – then repeat

4-7-8 Breathing

This technique works by inhaling for 4 counts through your nose – holding your breath for 7 counts – exhaling slowly through your mouth for 8 counts – then repeat 

Refocus:

Often when we become stressed or overwhelmed our minds race and we can become very focused solely on the stressor. Changing our focus can help to break the thought patterns and distract away from the stressor. This can allow us to then problem solve and return back to our day. These activities can help redirect our focus and give our mind and body the break it needs to recalibrate:

Taking a walk

Talk with a friend

Counting backward from 100 by fives

Relax:

Tensing and relaxing our muscles can help to reduce the feeling of stress as we hold a great deal of stress and tension in our bodies. When we can relax our bodies and muscles, it can help to generate a sense of calm, increase energy, and to help be able to move more freely. Tensing our muscles then releasing can help us to observe the tension leaving and feel the relaxation.

Tense each muscle group for 5-10 seconds then release for 15-30 seconds and notice the difference. You can always repeat this process.

Another technique is progressive muscle relaxation – you can find more details and how to do this technique by the Dartmouth Student Wellness Center – here.

Ground:

When we become stressed or overwhelmed we can often disconnect from our environment and even ourselves, getting ‘lost’ in our head, focused on the stressors. If we can redirect our attention to our environment or physical sensations, it can help us come back to the present moment, feel less stressed and rebalanced.

Engage your senses – 5-4-3-2-1

To do this technique you’ll want to take a moment to find your feet on the floor or how your seat feels against your back. 

Notice FIVE things that you can see – observe the color of the carpet, how the sky looks, are there pictures on the wall or plants in the room, is there grass or flowers blooming? Take note of what you see in your mind, telling yourself what you are observing.

Observe FOUR things that you can touch – what does your seat feel like, what is the texture of your clothing, you can even feel the floor beneath you

Notice THREE things you can hear – listen for all the sounds around you. Is there traffic outside, what are the sounds inside, do you hear any birds or people

Notice TWO things that you can smell – take a breath in and notice if you can smell. Can you smell your detergent, or the air, any perfume or lotion – is there a candle burning

Notice ONE thing you can taste – ­observe if there is any tast – or can you imagine the taste of your favorite food

You can find an audio from Insight Timer here

Take a drink of water

To do this simply take a drink of water – or whatever you happen to have – observe the temperature, the taste, how it feels in your mouth or as you swallow – do you have ice in your drink or is it warm or carbonated

March 2021 – Self Care

This month marks a year. A YEAR. A year that we have collectively experienced life in different ways. A year that we’ve had to distance and learn how to connect and care for ourselves in new ways. This month also ushers in a new season, spring. While we may still have to wait for warmer temperatures, spring is a time of growth, renewal, and awakening. The world starts to come alive after its hibernation. Spring can be a time for us to regroup, prioritize, and evaluate the lives we are living. It can be a time to ask ourselves how we would like to awaken from winter, move into a new season, and evaluate how we care for ourselves.

How we care for ourselves is a big part of how we create the lives that we live. Thinking back to the areas of our lives to attend to for self-care from a previous post we shared with you, self-care helps us create, grow, and renew; not just escape. It helps us create so that we don’t have to escape. 

Self-care is how we care for ourselves. It is often messy and not glamorous. While it can be treating ourselves, it is also washing dishes, creating healthy bedtime routines, moving to a new job or home, and being honest with ourselves when we are struggling. 

“It means being the hero of your life, not the victim. It means rewiring what you have until your everyday life isn’t something you need therapy to recover from. It is no longer choosing a life that looks good over a life that feels good. It is giving the h** up on some goals so you can care about others. It is being honest even if that means you aren’t universally liked. It is meeting your own needs so you aren’t anxious and dependent on other people. It is becoming the person you know you want and are meant to be…” – Brianna Wiest

Below are 31 ways that can help in this process of evaluation. While we have provided a self-care “challenge” in a previous post, here we are providing suggestions. Yes, we can challenge ourselves to take better care. However, we also want to give a friendly reminder that creating a habit is a process, and we can take our time. We can give ourselves permission to face it as a journey. 

  1. Make a list of all the tasks around your home you’ve been avoiding. Is there one you can do right now? Is there mail to be checked? Does the trash need to be taken out? Is there laundry in the dryer? Completing just one task, maybe one that takes only a few minutes can help us feel better. 
  2. De-clutter and clean out your space. Whether that be your work space at home or at work, creating an organized space can help us stay focused, think more clearly, and feel less stress.
  3. Stretch. Raise your arms up stretch as far as you can go. Look side to side. Roll your ankles and wiggle your toes. Remind your body that it’s awake and get the blood moving. It can calm us, relieve stress and tension, and improve posture. 
  4. Find your favorite window. Take 3 minutes and look out. Notice what you see. What does the sky look like? What can you hear from outside? Are there any people or animals? Is the wind blowing? 
  5. Make a list of all the people in your life who support, love, and help you. Soak in that list and recall a moment where you felt supported by one of those people. 
  6. Now, can you take a moment to send the folks from your list a note of gratitude or thanks? You can call them, send them a quick text, or even send them a good old-fashioned note in the mail. 
  7. Un-plug from media for a day. Yes, no tik-tok or Instagram for a day. Or, even half a day, You can turn off your phone, turn off notifications or even delete the apps off your phone for the day. Give yourself a break to be away from your phone, the screen, and be present in your day.
  8. Drink a glass or a bottle of water. Hydration is important for our bodies. 
  9. Breathe in through your nose for 4 counts. Hold for 7 counts. Exhale through your mouth for 8 counts. Try to repeat 3 more times. This can help us to naturally relax.
  10. Talk with someone you feel safe with. Reach out and stay connected with those in your support system. 
  11. Take care of you in the morning. Notice your morning routine. Whether that is having a cup of coffee or tea, meditating, stretching, or journaling. This helps us start off each new day. 
  12. Make a list of all the achievements you’ve made at work or school, no matter how big or small. Is there somewhere you can keep this list where you can see it often? You can even put that “A” or recognition on the fridge!
  13. Create time for your financial self-care. Take a look at your budget. Notice where you’re spending your money. Yes, this can be scary. However, it can help us and can even feel relieving. 
  14. Clean out your closet. Are there clothes that you don’t like or need anymore? Is there something you’ve been hanging on to, but haven’t worn in over a year? It can feel good to let go and clean out. You can donate or give away the items. 
  15. Make a meal. It can be as fancy or as simple as you would like. Taking the time to cook a meal creates a space to slow down and focus on the task at hand. And, taking time to enjoy the meal can remind us that food the food we eat not only tastes good but nourishes our bodies.
  16. Is there a day or moment that has been particularly frustrating or caused some anger? Scream. You can scream into a pillow. Or you can turn up some tunes and sing as loud as you’d like along with a song. This helps us get that energy out. When your done you can take a deep breath and let your shoulders relax. 
  17. Give yourself to take some time to not be productive. It is okay to slow down. It is okay to take time where we aren’t crossing something off of a to-do list. Is there a show you’ve been wanting to watch or a magazine you’ve been wanting to read? 
  18. Remember to take breaks. Taking breaks can help us be creative, process more easily, and be more productive.
  19. Take a warm bath or long shower. Take some time to enjoy the water and the warmth.
  20. Is there something that you have in your life that is not longer serving you? Is there something that is no longer bringing you the joy it once was? An act of self-care is to let go of these things. 
  21. Go outside. If it’s cold take a moment to stand and enjoy the sun. Take a few deep breaths in and notice your environment. If it’s a warm day, take those shoes off! Stand and feel the ground beneath your feet and connect with your environment. These acts can help us feel grounded, centered, and more connected.
  22. Do you have a stack of books on your night-stand or on a shelf that you just don’t seem to get to? Make one a priority. Give yourself time to read a little bit of one of those books. 
  23. Are any of those books ones that you know don’t want to read? Find them a new home or even donate them.  
  24. Is there someone you need to have a hard conversation with? Have it. Having those conversations can be just that, hard. But, they help us grow, stay connected, learn things about ourselves, and move forward. If you don’t know how to start the conversation. Start there, it’s okay say “I don’t know how, but here goes”.
  25. Are there sayings you like? Quotes? Affirmations? Read them out loud to yourself. Post them where you will see them regularly. This can help give ourselves a new script. It can help us to create a more optimistic or positive thought process.
  26. Is there something in your life you have been ignoring or trying not to think about? An act of self-care can be facing this. It can help to journal about it. It can help get our thoughts and emotions out in a safe place. It can help us figure out why we think or feel a certain way, allowing us to start to move forward in resolving the issue. 
  27.  Get that body moving. Do you have even just ten minutes for a walk? Walking can help our bodies and help our minds. It gives us a change in our environment which can help us change our perspective.
  28. Explore your creativity. Make a list of things you would like to learn. Is that a new language, playing an instrument, how to paint? Is there a hobby you have but haven’t started? Now is a good time to take the first step. 
  29. Wrap up in a warm blanket with a hot cup of coffee or tea. Take time to notice how the warmth of the blanked and cup feel. Notice the smell and taste of your drink. Be mindful of the break. How cozy is that blanket?
  30. Open a window. This lets the sunshine in. It lets fresh air into our homes, bringing in new energy. 
  31. Prepare for the time-change. We lose an hour, and that can be hard. Just like taking care of ourselves first thing in the morning, what we do before sleep is just as important. Whether that is doing some yoga, meditating, keeping a gratitude journal, herbal tea. These routines helps us to sleep better so we can feel more rested and rejuvenated.

February 2021

Welcome, February! We are right in the middle of winter, a school year, and 2021 is moving full-steam ahead! We would like to give you a little break. You’ve reached HSP’s monthly moment of pause for you. How have you been doing with your self-care this year? It sometimes happens that after we start a new year with goals and plans, life takes over. By February, our motivation seems to be down and the shiny excitement we had isn’t what it was. This is normal! And it is okay! This may be even more true this year, as we have the added stressor of navigating our lives in a pandemic. This is where taking care and being compassionate with ourselves can be SO helpful! 

The practice of self-care is just that, a practice. Self-care encompasses being compassionate and kind to ourselves, and yes, this is a practice too. These concepts are like muscles, the more we use and practice them, the stronger and better at them we become. 

Continuing to practice self-care creates resilience within us. Resilience refers to our ability to adapt to adversity and stressors. It is our ability to “bounce back” when we go through difficult times, such as living through a pandemic. Practicing these things and increasing our resilience can help us to find the motivation, excitement, and drive we had coming into this new year. 

Many different acts of self-care can increase our resilience. It can be things such as making time for your relationships, talking with someone you trust, focusing on your physical self with enough sleep and healthy foods, reminding yourself that tough times are temporary no matter the struggle, and practicing grounding and mindfulness. These don’t have to be BIG things we do; it can be just reminding ourselves that we are human and that tomorrow brings new opportunities to try again. It’s giving ourselves grace and having the patience to learn from the times when we struggle.

“Resilience is not all or nothing. It comes in amounts. You can be a little resilient, a lot resilient; resilient in some situations but not others. And no matter how resilient you are today, you can become more resilient tomorrow.” – Karen Reivich

If you would like to read further on resilience, here are a few articles:

Five Science-Backed Strategies to Build Resilience

9 Ways to Strengthen Your Resilience

Ramp up your resilience!

Welcome, 2021!

Welcome 2021! The new-year can be a time for celebration, re-focusing, goal setting, rest, and rejuvenation. When we are given this blank canvas each year, we are often inspired to set goals, look for ways that we can change our lives for the better, and seek out new ways to practice self-care. These are all great things that can help our overall health and wellness and help us start out the new year with momentum and energy. However, sometimes this can feel overwhelming or we just may not be sure how. 

How we practice self-care is as unique as each of us. And, what works for someone may not work for you. In fact, practicing self-care encompasses the process of getting to know yourself, what you need, and your boundaries. We can start small, creating new habits on our journey of self-discovery. If you know that taking a walk helps you feel better, but you haven’t gotten outside for a while, start with a 10 minute walk. If you know that having a clean home helps you feel at ease, start with organizing one room or one spot in your house. If you, like many of us, have a few books on our night stands that we haven’t started, read just one chapter in one of the books. Starting these new habits is self-care, and these feel-good activities don’t have to take hours. And, when you can, celebrate that you did them!

When we practice self-care, it is important to focus on our whole self, which means having varying ways to take care of ourselves. There are different areas for self-care and these often include: physical, emotional, social, spiritual, professional, psychological, and environmental. As the new year begins, it gives space for us to incorporate different things from each of these areas. As you try things, see what fits and discard the rest. 

We’ve included two graphics for you explaining the areas of self-care and ideas for you to get started. Happy 2021!

December Blog 2 – Green Flags

For Domestic Violence Awareness Month, we talked about red flags and how to recognize abusive behaviors that an abusive partner can present. While it is absolutely important to educate yourself on what Domestic Violence is and what power and control can “look” like within in a relationship, it is just as important to understand how a healthy relationship can present itself.  

The healthiness of relationships lie on a spectrum from healthy to toxic or unhealthy to abusive.  As we mentioned in our previous blog, at the core of an abusive relationship is a dynamic of power and control. So, what does that mean for a healthy relationship? Those relationships have a dynamic of equality, where the partners can feel heard, safe, validated, understood, respected, and are just that – partners. 

What happens then, if we do a reframe for our relationship and look for what is positive, what makes us feel safe, and things that tell us that our partner(s) are not acting in an abusive way? What are the “green flags”?

  • Respecting boundaries – especially when you say “No”
  • You feel safe, both physically and emotionally
  • There is open communication – you can talk about problems and have opinions
  • Your partner is honest with you
  • There is trust – your partner trusts you and you trust your partner
  • Your partner is supportive of you – your goals, desires, in your relationships with your support system
  • There is equality – both partners have an equal say in decisions and what is important in the relationship
  • Your partner asks for your consent and you feel safe to say no – no pressure or coercion 
  • You are allowed to parent and children are not manipulated 
  • You are allowed and encouraged to have relationships with friends or family
  • It is not your responsibility to make the relationship work and you are not solely blamed for problems in the relationship

Sometimes coming out of an abusive relationship, it is not easy to “see” the green flags. Our minds and bodies become trained to look for danger and prepare to keep us safe if necessary. That is okay. You learned how to survive. Healing is a journey, and it takes time. It takes time to process through trauma. It is important for us to create a support system, seek outside/professional help when we need it, and work through our traumas so that we, ourselves, can feel healthy. When we start to feel like we are healing and healthy, we are positively changing our mental space and wellbeing. This helps us to be in the space where we feel that having a trusting relationship is possible and something we deserve.

But please remember, If you are experiencing red flags or abusive behaviors from a partner – it is not your fault. You did not cause your partner’s behavior. Advocates available to help support and talk with you. You can reach an advocate by calling Hanover Safe Place’s hotline at 804-612-6126. The hotline also has texting available if this option is a more comfortable and safer way for you to reach out!

For more information about the services that Hanover Safe Place offers and Domestic and Sexual Violence, you can always follow us on social media.

December 2020 Blog

Hello all! We did it! We have made it to December, which also signals the fast approaching end to 2020! It has been a tough year, but we have made it! December can be a great time for reflection. It’s a great time to look back over the year, document or journal how we have experienced the year, and create space to process our thoughts. It’s important to not only look at our struggles, but acknowledge where we excelled, how brave we were, and how resilient we have been. We can be proud that we made it through and remember our resilience as we move into 2021! 

One way that we can carry this into 2021 is by practicing gratitude. Gratitude can have a strong and positive impact on our wellness, happiness, relationships, self-esteem, and outlook. We can do that by doing simple daily acts of gratitude or by keeping a gratitude journal. A gratitude journal is something that we can do that only takes a few moments of our day, and it can be practiced as we start or end our day – or both! 

A gratitude journal is simply a way to keep track of all of the good things in our lives. Intentionally taking time each day to see the positives helps us to remember that when things are hard, that there are still good things around us and things that even still bring us joy. It can help protect us against the struggles, as it builds our positivity, mood, and health. 

So – how do you keep a gratitude journal? All you need is a notebook, journal, or just a piece of paper. If you are one that likes to type out your thoughts, that is okay too! You will just need to grab your phone, computer, or even use an app. Then, each day write down a few people or things that you are grateful for, happy to have in your life, or that you are thankful for. If you are grateful that the sun came out after a week of rain, jot it down! If you had a nice conversation with a friend, you can write that too! Again, you can do this as you start your day or as a way to end your day with a few moments of reflection. And, of course, you can do it both times!             

This month we’ve included a few questions for self-reflection and prompts for you to start or continue keeping a gratitude journal!

DVAM Blog #4


At the core of an abusive relationship is a dynamic of power and control. The abusive partner will employ various tactics to maintain control over their partner. 
At the start of a new relationship, it is not always easy to determine the path the relationship will take. This includes being able to tell if your new dating partner is abusive. This is because abusive, controlling, or possessive behaviors do not often present themselves in the beginning, nor do they always happen overnight. These behaviors often begin gradually and worsen over time. While every relationship is different and not everyone’s experience of domestic violence is the same, there are warning signs or “red flags” to look for that may indicate that your dating partner is unhealthy or abusive. 
·       Moving the relationship along more quickly than you are comfortable
·       Your partner wants all of your time and is upset when you cannot
·       Not respecting your boundaries
·       Excessive jealousy
·       Keeps tabs on your day – where you are, who you’re with, what you do
·       Puts you down or criticizes you
·       Blames all previous relationship endings/failures on their former partners
·       Tells you that you never do anything right
·       Feel like you can’t make decisions for yourself because you will “get in trouble”
·       Being pressured to have sex or participate in sexual acts
·       Blamed for your partner’s behaviors
·       Feel afraid of your partner
·       Feel as if you cannot spend time with your friends or family – or being told you cannot
·       Feeling anxious, scared, or hypervigilant when your partner gets angry or frustrated
·       Walking on eggshells around your partner – trying to keep the peace
 
If you are experiencing these behaviors from a partner – it is not your fault. You did not cause your partner’s behavior. Everyone deserves to be in a healthy relationship where they feel loved and safe. There are advocates available to help support and talk with you. You can reach an advocate by calling Hanover Safe Place’s hotline at 804-612-6126.
 
 
Remember, for more information on DVAM and Domestic and Sexual Violence, you can always follow us on social media.

November Self Care Check Up

It’s the start of a new month. Welcome November! It’s the perfect opportunity to try something new, and give yourself a reset. As we are navigating eight months of life in a pandemic, self-care may not be near the top of our “lists”. What will next year be like? Or tomorrow? But what do we need right now? Finding that and going for it, that is self-care!

Another way to reconnect with yourself is by intentionally setting time just for you. Life gets busy, and we can often struggle to take any time to rest, recharge, and renew. We’ve created a 30 day self-care challenge that we invite you to join us on and enjoy throughout the month. If you need a little extra motivation, feel free to share with a friend or loved one. 

Each day you’ll find quick activities to help “fill up your cup” and restore your mind and body. Remember, self-care isn’t selfish, it’s necessary. If you miss a day or start after the first, that’s okay! We’ve set the challenge up to follow any 30 days. Also, if a daily prompt doesn’t quite fit – that is okay too! You know yourself and what you need better than anyone else. It is never too late to start taking care of yourself.

A gentle reminder to please continue to practice social distancing and make the safest decisions for you and your family when participating in any activities.

Here is a written out version of the challenge, in case you need ideas. You will find the calendar below with a link to download it as well.

  1. Go for a walk – whether it be 5 minutes or a 5-mile hike, just get outside and get your feet moving!
  2. Meditate – meditation is a practice. You can meditate while walking, taking a bath, or even in prayer. Just a few minutes can help.
  3. Listen to your favorite song – Give yourself a few minutes to get lost in a melody and feel-good memories
  4. Get outside -play with the kids after school, enjoy your coffee or tea in the morning sun, or just go outside and take a deep breath
  5. Catch up with a friend – give someone a call just to say hello and that you were thinking about them, send a quick text – keep those connections!
  6. Have a healthy meal – When we get busy, we often go for something quick that isn’t always the best food for our bodies. This is an opportunity to intentionally fill up your cup with healthy foods.
  7. Journal for 10 minutes – you can set a timer or even a page limit, just a few minutes to get something on paper
  8. Treat yourself – whatever this looks like to you – a sweet treat, something you’ve been saving for, or something you don’t do very often
  9. Dance it out – throw on some tunes and get that body moving!
  10. Drink more water – being mindful of even having just an extra cup today
  11. Organize your space – our environment affects us mentally. This is a chance to clear up some clutter and literally create new space
  12. Take a nap – listen to your body, give it a few moments to rest
  13. Do something creative – grab a coloring book, do a craft, or create something with your kids
  14. Make a budget – self-care is taking care of our whole self. This is often what we think of as something we “have” to do, but it allows us to stay balanced and alleviates stress
  15. Read for 20 minutes – Grab that book you’ve been putting off and read the first or next chapter
  16. Practice a hobby – This could be a new hobby or one you haven’t done in a while – a puzzle, knitting, or painting
  17. Use towels from the dryer – This is comfort – just wrapping up and enjoying a warm towel!
  18. Thank someone – Take a moment to thank someone who’s helped you, checked you out at the grocery store, or even held the door open for you
  19. Try something new – What’s something you’ve wanted to try but haven’t – a new recipe, a new way to work, or a new band
  20. Practice deep breathing – This can be taking 2 minutes to concentrate on your breathing – slower deeper breaths. This can help clear mental space and create calm.
  21. Savor a warm drink – Whether it be a cup of coffee, tea, or hot chocolate. Really enjoy your cup and feel the warmth!
  22. Do some yoga – Yoga is also a practice, even a few moments can help us
  23. Go to bed early – Give yourself that extra 15 or 30 minutes of rest
  24. Take a break – Take an afternoon break. Walk away from your project. Stand up and stretch your arms up. Give your brain a break for just a moment.
  25. Belly laugh at something – A funny video, tv show, or memory – laughter is contagious!
  26. Practice gratitude – Think of 3 things you are grateful for today. Write them down even!
  27. Stretch – You can try this right when you wake up to get you moving or before bed to help yourself wind down for sleep.
  28. Watch your favorite movie – allow yourself the break for your favorite 2 hour get away
  29. Write your goals for the month – What are your upcoming goals? What would you like to accomplish before the end of the year?
  30. Watch the sunset – Enjoy the end of the day and all of the beautiful colors nature provides for us before nightfall.

If you’d like to download the calendar you can find it here

Domestic Violence Awareness Blog #3

Since March, families have been urged to change their daily living habits. We are now living in a world where social distancing, working remotely (if we can), virtual learning, limiting large gatherings, and staying at home as much as possible is the norm. 

For many families, home is a haven and safe place. However, home, when living with an abusive partner, even under the greatest of conditions, is not at all a safe place. Living with an abusive partner during a pandemic creates a set of circumstances that can be incredibly dangerous. 

Countries around the world have seen an increase in domestic violence since the start of COVID-19. The stress and strain of experiencing the trauma of living during a pandemic – fears of falling ill, being furloughed or losing a job, attempting to home-school children, cabin fever, facing a new reality – can create an environment at home that is a battlefield of triggers for abusive behavior.

Abusive partners may use the pandemic to their advantage, further isolating their partners, using gaslighting to manipulate their partners into believing that there is no help available now, and not allowing their partners to see their support system so as not to become sick.

So how can one experiencing domestic violence stay safe at home?

  • Create a safety plan
    • Reach out – Hanover Safe Place is still operating our 24 hour hotline – 804-612-6126 – and shelter as well as community services such as case management and counseling. There are advocates readily available to provide support – advocates who can help create a personalized safety plan. 
    • Be aware of exits, windows, and doors with locks
    • Stay away from rooms where there are not exits easily accessible or rooms where there are weapons or items that can be used as weapons
    • Find reasons or activities to get out of the home such as work, grocery shopping, or outside family activities
    • Keep track of necessary items such as keys, IDs, wallet/purse, medications, and money
  • Keep routines and structure for the family – this can help to lower stress levels, give purpose and normalize daily living
  • Self-care – this can be anything that helps relax, lower anxiety, and lifts spirits
    • Get outside
    • Fun activities with children 
    • Play with pets
    • Journaling
    • Anything that creates laughter – it is perfectly okay to play and even be silly
    • Keep in touch with support systems when available

If you or a loved one are experiencing a life-threatening emergency, you can always call 911.

Hanover Safe Place is here for you and we want to help keep you and your family safe.

Remember, for more information on DVAM and Domestic and Sexual Violence, you can always follow us on social media.

Domestic Violence Awareness Month, Part 2

1 in 4 women and 1 in 9 men experience severe intimate partner physical violence, 1 in 7 women and 1 in 18 men have been stalked by an intimate partner during their lifetime, and on average there are more than 20,000 phone calls made to domestic violence hotlines daily. These survivors are our friends and loved ones. They are our co-workers and neighbors, and the statistics are often startling and alarming. Knowing what to say to someone or how to help someone you know who may be experiencing domestic violence can be overwhelming. However, there are ways you can help. An important thing to remember is that you don’t have to be an expert. You can be yourself, a friend, and a source of comfort.

  1. Listen: The first thing to do when someone shares their story or their experiences with you is to simply listen and listen without judgement. Allowing someone a safe place to share can lessens feelings of being alone, can help someone feel validated, and can break the silence a survivor may feel. 
  2. Believe: Very often a survivor may feel that the abuse is their fault. It is not. Let the person know that you believe them. Allow the survivor to set the pace of the conversation and share what they feel comfortable sharing. Acknowledge their courage in sharing and validate how they are feeling. 
  3. Ask how you can help them: The trauma experienced from domestic violence creates a feeling of loss, a loss of control, independence, and personal power. When we are wanting to help someone, it can be easy to jump in and give advice. However, it is important to let the survivor make decisions. A great way to support someone is to just ask how you can help, letting the survivor know they are in the driver’s seat.
  4. Support their decisions: The goal in supporting a survivor is to help them know you care and help them feel as supported as we can. The goals is not to tell the person what to do. A survivor may make decisions that we do not understand, but there are a multitude of reasons a decision is made to maintain safety. It is important to remember that they are the expert in their lives.
  5. Take care of yourself: Supporting someone in their experiences with trauma or violence can be overwhelming, and we can take those stories with us. These feelings are valid. It is okay and encouraged to take time for ourselves to do the things that re-center us when supporting individuals. It is also okay to find someone to talk with if you are feeling overwhelmed. This will allow you to honor your needs.

For more information: 

http://www.joyfulheartfoundation.org/6-steps-to-support-a-survivor

https://www.rainn.org