RENEWing A Life

RENEW (Reflectively Embracing Nonviolence through Education for Women) is a support group program for women who have previously used force in their relationships. RENEW offers the opportunity to heal from the past as they explore violence-free choices for the future. Sabrina’s story is an example of how RENEW helps women work toward violence free lives.

Sabrina relocated to Michigan with assistance from a legal aid agency and a battered women’s shelter in a southern state. Staff from both agencies feared that Sabrina’s husband, Paul, would kill Sabrina given his threats and previous actions against her. Sending Sabrina out of state to be with her family, without Paul’s knowledge, seemed to be the safest alternative.

Once Sabrina returned to Michigan, she found her way to RENEW.

When Sabrina first enrolled in RENEW, she saw herself as a “perpetrator,” only identifying with the actions she had used to navigate her abusive relationship with Paul. Over time, Sabrina grew to understand the complex, gender-specific dynamics of domestic violence.

She also began to heal.

As Sabrina engaged in the healing process, she recognized that the shame she felt for using force had overshadowed her extensive history as a domestic violence survivor. Sabrina began to work on who she wanted to be, how she wanted to live, and coming to terms with the trauma from her past.

While participating in RENEW, Sabrina’s family told Paul how to contact her, as they believed “a husband should be with his wife.” Sabrina was undaunted. She remained focused on improving her circumstances and finishing her education. Sabrina just completed a year studying in Europe, and is now a senior in college. She is “giving back” to RENEW in diverse ways, including peer facilitating groups and co-training with RENEW staff. Sabrina states that, for her, “RENEW is a healing place that gave me what I needed to move forward in my life.”

Thanks to your support, we can continue to change lives, like Sabrina’s, one person at a time.

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