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Unprecedented Times: DVAM 2020

Categories: From the CEO

October 2020 – Domestic Violence Awareness Month

Dear Friend,

We are living in unprecedented times, and as a result now more than ever, YWCA’s domestic violence services are desperately needed. Right here in our local community, the measurable increase of calls to our 24/7 Crisis Hotline has arrived. Our confidential  Safe House shelter continues to welcome families seeking safety as we have throughout the duration of our community’s shelter in place. Referrals for our therapy services are likewise on the rise as our team continues to innovate in order to reach victims of violence, and
come to their aid.

Pivoting to serve families in need, here is one boy’s story:

Theo is an 11-year-old boy who began counseling with us in the fall of 2019.  His mother was seeking therapy services due to ending an abusive relationship with her husband, Theo’s father. Theo witnessed and experienced his father’s abuse and was showing symptoms of fear, withdrawal and inability to express his emotions.  Through the use of a sand tray and YWCA’s trauma-informed approach, evidence of Theo’s trauma began to manifest.  He recreated battle scenes, whereby a powerful force was destroying the other figures in the sand.  This role-playing continued throughout his sessions.

Then, COVID-19 hit.  Because YWCA’s Therapy Program moved to telehealth the first week that the shelter in place orders took effect, Theo’s therapist was able to provide him with a “mini sand tray” to use at home during their video visits.  Theo began verbalizing his feelings which was a major breakthrough for him. His mother reports that she has seen a big change in how Theo expresses himself and has been amazed by his new found ability to speak about his feelings, especially toward his father.

As you can see, YWCA continues to innovate in order to overcome barriers to the way our services have traditionally been delivered. YWCA’s A Special Place Therapeutic Preschool has also shifted to provide age appropriate curriculum for a cohort of in-person learners and through distance learning for those participating from home.

Funding for these essential services is becoming more challenging in this new environment.
Your support is crucial to our effort, please give generously.

Please stay healthy and well.


Madeleine Keegan O’Connell, Chief Executive Officer, YWCA Sonoma County