Two weeks ago, The Willow Domestic Violence Center and The Children's Shelter combined forces to bring the national training Risking Connections in for a week of education on trauma-informed care. Trauma-informed care involves building relationships with clients based not on a reward and punishment system, which can often mimic these sort of power and control that occurs in abusive households and relationships, but rather attempt to understand the behavior of survivors as adaptive methods of survival. Instead of looking to punish those behaviors, look to understand what the cause of the adaptive behavior is, what need the survivor is trying to meet, and to work with them to build a relationship in which they feel open to communicating those needs without feeling the need to use adaptive behaviors.
There are ways in which we as an organization have developed over time that substituted rules for relationships. This is not done out of any desire to harm, but unfortunately the effects can be harmful for some, if their behaviors do not match the rigid list of rules set out for them. By removing these rules, and replacing them with cover stations and relationships, the hope is to build trust and communication. By risking these connections The Willow to help survivors to build a sense of self and grow out of crisis into place in which they can move forward. For the last exercise, both groups got together and created a web of yarn, each person catching the yarn, saying one thing they'd learned, and throwing it on. The result was a beautiful pattern of support and caring, unique solely to these groups in Lawrence. We look forward to following this journey, to having these conversations, and building these relationships.