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Women In Distress

October Mission Moment

hope for marie and martin


Martin* was just four years old when his mother decided to get out of an abusive relationship with him and his siblings in tow. Thankfully, Marie* had a safe place in the community to stay, but she needed help rebuilding a life free from abuse for herself and her family. When she began coming to Women in Distress for outreach services, she mentioned in one of her counseling sessions that she was worried about her youngest son, Martin. Suddenly he was wetting the bed every night, and she had to put him back in diapers. His speech had also begun regressing and he was aggressive towards his siblings and other children in daycare. Marie was distraught and unsure about what was happening. No parent wants their child suffering and it pained her to see Martin and his siblings hurting.

Hearing Marie’s distress, the Child and Family Therapist at Women In Distress began individual counseling sessions with Martin. Through play therapy, Martin’s counselor observed aggressive play with the doll toys, and how Martin digressed into tantrums when it was time to leave the counseling room. Even though Martin had witnessed the abuse against his mother, she did not think he could remember it because “he was just a baby.” However, it was clear that Martin had memories of the abuse and was acting out what he witnessed. It was imperative for Martin to reflect on his emotions and thoughts, and start to learn new behaviors. Through consistent and positive reinforcement, Martin’s counselor helped him to make good choices. His counselor also provided Marie with training to build new habits for Martin’s bed wetting issues at home.

After his counseling sessions at Women In Distress, Martin no longer shows aggression towards other children, his bed wetting is minimal, and he’s slowly started to talk again.  Marie credits Women In Distress and Martin’s time with his counselor for his progress and improvements.

Seeing Martin hurting was difficult for Marie. She carried so much guilt for staying with her abuser and seeing the effects of this on her children compounded that guilt. Through her own counseling sessions, Marie has worked through her feelings and knows her abuse was not her fault. She also finally recognizes that she was brave for finding the courage to leave with her children.  

Our work with families like Marie and Martin would not be possible without the many donors who support our mission. Martin and his mother and siblings are rebuilding their lives because they could access our Outreach Program services without worrying about how much it would cost. And that gives Marie and her family hope for the future.

You can help Women in Distress to serve more families like Marie and Martin’s by making a donation today.

*Names and some details have been changed to protect the survivor’s identity.

November Mission Moment

Cynthia’s story of hope and second chances

When Cynthia* arrived to Women In Distress, she was very down and depressed about the abuse she endured. She felt sorry for herself and didn’t have any direction. She was like a lost child. She felt like she wasn’t good enough for anything. The people that she was used to being around drained her instead of lifting her up. But she had a chance encounter with a Women In Distress counselor that helped her to write her own story of hope and second chances.

Just like thousands of women in our country, Cynthia never thought that her situation would be so bad that she would end up in a domestic violence emergency shelter, but she couldn’t have in her wildest dreams imagined that what happened next would have such a positive influence on her life.

One day when she was cooking a meal in the shelter for her son, a Women In Distress counselor approached her and invited her to a business empowerment workshop class. The counselor actually challenged her to come. Cynthia didn’t think there was a solution to her ‘special’ case, so she almost didn’t go.  When she attended the class, her mind opened up to a whole new way of thinking.

Every time she went to class, there was something new to learn. She was pointed in the right directions to make the appropriate decisions for her life and to accomplish all her goals.  She learned how to search for a job, how to dress for interviews, and how to conduct herself at job interviews. She learned not to settle for any job, and to set expectations according to what she wanted.

One day she walked into a room of strangers and they thought she was the boss! She looked good, and felt good. Her self-image skyrocketed. Cynthia had a new sense of purpose, and even received several job offers at the Women In Distress job fair.

A local college spoke at one of the sessions about higher education.  Cynthia had honestly given up on obtaining a degree. As a single mom, she was just trying to keep her head above water. Much to Cynthia’s surprise, she learned that there is support available to help moms, like her, get an education so that they can get better jobs and take care of their families.

The ‘challenge’ the counselor issued to Cynthia that day in the kitchen at the Women In Distress shelter had a profound impact on her life.  Cynthia knows she has a long way to go, but she has a new determination to not give up.  

Cynthia says, “I am very grateful to Women In Distress for helping me to create a new life. I now feel I have no excuse to not go after what I want in life.”

Our work with domestic violence abuse survivors would not be possible without the many donors who support our mission. Because of caring donors like you, domestic violence abuse survivors find the courage to write their own stories of hope and second chances.

You can join with us to help survivors like Cynthia.

Click here to give monetary donations.

Click here to learn how you can give Thanksgiving food items for domestic violence survivors.



*In an effort to protect the privacy of our families, names were changed and stock images used.







Creating stories in a sandbox helps children at Women In Distress work through their trauma.


Children playing in the sand is a time-honored tradition. They use their creativity, build worlds, laugh and have fun. For some, this activity is actually therapeutic. Sandplay therapy is used by child and family counselors as a nonverbal form of play therapy used in conjunction with traditional talk therapy. Sandplay therapy is a technique often used by counselors at Women In Distress with child participants. It allows the child to tell a story or narrative from their “world” view while allowing the clinician to evaluate and gain understanding in order to best help the child.

Sam* is one of the children who has benefited from sandplay therapy. During a counseling session, Sam was asked to create his “perfect world” in the sandtray. He created a fence dividing two worlds, a military base on one side and a forest on the other. The military side is preparing to invade the peaceful forest, but a large cat wielding a saber protects the forest and ensures no harm comes to the creatures on that side of the fence. Sam would witness his mother’s boyfriend attack her. He would often try to get the abuse to stop, but being only 9 years old, there was little he could do. Sam felt helpless. In the perfect world Sam created he is the hero, able to prevent any harm and allowing those around him to live peacefully. Through his story, Sam’s counselor was able to see he was seeking to have control in chaos and work with him to know that the abuse his mother experienced was not his fault even when he felt powerless to stop it.

Half of those served at Women In Distress are children, and counselors and advocates create an individual counseling plan for each of the children they work with. Getting children to open up to a stranger about their feelings can be a daunting task, but sandplay therapy is one of the creative and innovative ways that counselors and advocates at Women In Distress help the smallest victims of domestic violence heal from their trauma.

To help with programs and services such as these, please make a donation today.

*Names and some details have been changed to protect the survivor’s identity.