They are sometimes called the “hidden” victims of domestic violence. But for children who witness violence in their home or experience it directly, there is nothing hidden about it. It is all too visible, all too hurtful, all too real.
Our name is Center for Hope & Safety, but if all we did was help women in crisis, we’d only be doing half our job. Truth is, 50% of the people served by Center for Hope & Safety are children—kids whose pathway in life is far too rocky far too soon. The one place where they are supposed to be safest and most secure—their home—is anything but.
The trauma of witnessing or suffering domestic violence at a young age can cause irreversible damage. We can’t let that happen.
And so at Center for Hope & Safety, a vitally important part of our mission is to reach out to children to help them cope, and to give them hope. We do so through a number of programs, most visibly through an innovative creative arts therapy initiative known as Project CHILD.
Through hands-on art, music, and play experiences, children ages 4 to 12 have a unique opportunity to express the pain and trauma that lie deep and dark within them—and without being judged. They do so under the careful guidance of professionally trained art and music therapists.
Here’s what we’ve learned in 10+ years of offering Project CHILD and helping more than 600 children in the community. Creative arts therapy:
- Reduces stress
- Enhances self-esteem
- Improves social skills and communication
- Helps build coping skills, including dealing with conflict more effectively.
Perhaps most important, Project CHILD enables children to understand that they are not alone. They are not alone in suffering the devastating impact of domestic violence … and they will not have to be alone in their struggles to deal with it.
Typically, a child will go to individual therapy sessions once a week for 6 months, followed by group therapy once a week for another 6 months. There are parent support groups as well. Services are available in both English and Spanish, and children are provided with transportation to and from the Project CHILD facility.
“My children were always happy to go to Project CHILD and very excited about the work they did,” said Brenda, a mother of two. “Their confidence shot through the roof! The counselors made a positive lasting impression on them—and on me. Everyone working with us was kind and genuine.”
What we want for our children—all of our children—is an opportunity to live with confidence and a strong sense of hope, and to enjoy a life of independence, blessed with abundant love and thoughtful direction. Confidence. Hope. Independence. Love. Direction. That’s where the CHILD in Project CHILD comes from.
At Center for Hope & Safety we care deeply about the dark places that children have come from in the past and do our utmost to help them reach much brighter places in the future.
Better than we could say it ourselves, a 12-year-old client summed it up best in a note to her therapist: “Thank you for helping me find myself.”
Come. Find us. Call us at 201-300-6666 for more information on Project CHILD.