Blog Written by Christine Murray, PhD
One of my longstanding professional dreams was to develop and host a retreat for survivors of domestic violence in connection with our See the Triumph campaign. This dream was years in the making, and thanks to support from the UNC Greensboro School of Education’s Impact Through Innovation program, this dream was made into a reality in May 2018.
See the Triumph is a research-based social media and advocacy campaign that grew out of research I worked on with Dr. Allison Crowe of the East Carolina University Counseling Department, and she and I started See the Triumph over six years ago on January 1, 2013. Since Day 1, we were determined to use social media as a platform for sharing the empowering stories of the hundreds of survivors who have participated in our research. Our vision is to end the stigma that survivors of abuse so often face. As powerful as we’ve found the online platforms to be in sharing information and resources for survivors and organizations and people who support them, we’ve also always aimed to grow the in-person aspects of our campaign. We were grateful for the opportunity to do this with support from the Impact Through Innovation program, which provided funding last year for us to develop our first-ever in-person retreat for survivors. We had already seen how powerful it was for survivors to connect with one another and share their stories and encouragement online, and we knew that this impact could be magnified by creating a framework to bring those connections to face-to-face interactions as well.
In May 2018, the “Every Survivor Has a Story” retreat was held near Greensboro, NC. We chose to focus the retreat on the theme of storytelling in many ways because we had seen time and again the power of telling and hearing stories of surviving and overcoming abuse. Our goal was to provide space for survivors to gather together and explore different means of sharing their stories. This included traditional means, such as writing and public speaking, as well as creative approaches, like art and through practicing mindfulness in nature.
We considered this first retreat to be a pilot, and we are working to develop the program into a curriculum to share with other domestic violence programs so that it can be implemented in other communities. In this way, the retreat curriculum will eventually join with the other resources that we make available to individuals and agencies that support survivors of past abuse.
Although there are often many resources in communities to help survivors in an immediate crisis—such as shelters, victim advocacy, and crisis hotlines—resources for longer-term recovery have been more limited. We aim to join with other amazing organizations around the country and world to begin filling that gap so that the longer-term needs of survivors of abuse can be met more effectively. We’re grateful to the Impact Through Innovation program and its vision to help accelerate the growth of programs like See the Triumph.
To learn more about See the Triumph, please check us out at our web-site, www.seethetriumph.org, or connect with us on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest @SeeTheTriumph, or on Instagram @TriumphOverAbuse.