Building Safe Relationships
Our Women & Children’s Center is truly a safe haven for women and children in Central Oregon who have been living in dangerous and often violent situations. When facing trauma, addiction, and abuse there is often nowhere for these women to turn where they feel protected and accepted enough to address and overcome their wounds and fears.
That is what Shepherd’s House Ministries aims to provide – a true home where women and their children have the chance to breathe, to rest, and to begin healing.
Something that all of our residents (and even staff and volunteers) come to realize is that they were never taught how to set appropriate boundaries and to maintain safe relationships. Boundaries are a difficult thing for many people and today’s culture does not always provide a good example of what safe relationships should look like.
At the Women & Children’s Center, these women who have been deeply hurt get the opportunity to build relationships with safe people. This process takes time, practice, reflection, and a willingness to trust. We get to watch over and over again as these women finally relax in the presence of safety and allow themselves to be accepted and cared for.
When it comes to women with children there are completely understandable defense-mechanisms that take careful time and attention to address as mothers learn to decipher between who is trustworthy and who is not. We use specific material to help give women the tools they need to reflect on the safety of others so that they can decide how to move forward in their relationships.
A Healthy Male Relationship
Jillian Devine, the Women & Children’s Center Director, shares with us a specific story about a mother and daughter’s relationship with her husband, Korey.
Having experienced abusive relationships as a child, Korey has a special place in his heart for the mission of the Women & Children’s Center. He has been actively involved in the house as support to Jillian and the women she is working with.
His presence in the house and his relationships with the residents is something he feels very honored to experience. Knowing that many of these women and children have never had healthy relationships with men, he sees this opportunity as a privilege and is committed to showing he is trustworthy and safe.
Jillian recalls a mother and daughter who were particularly protective of each other – never leaving each other’s side. Wherever her daughter was, mom was right there to ensure she was safe from harm.
As Korey got to know this mother and daughter things began to shift and one day Jillian found herself taken aback:
Korey had offered to make smoothies and popped his head into the living room to see if this mother and daughter wanted to help. Excited, the daughter jumped to her feet and joined him in the kitchen.
Jillian waited for the mother to come around into the kitchen where they started working, but she never did. Curious, Jillian went and asked the mother, “usually, you would be in there next to your daughter – what’s up?”
“Oh, well . . . it’s Korey,” she replied.
Both Jillian and this mother were brought to tears as they realized what was going on. Korey had provided such a safe example of a male relationship that this mother knew her daughter was safe. This was the first man that this mother could trust with her daughter.
This story may seem simple but it shows the much deeper work taking place as these women and children take part in our program. Learning how to have healthy relationships, how to trust others, and how to set appropriate boundaries are all critical factors in lasting change.
A Community that Fosters Lasting Change
The Women & Children’s Center provides a safe community for women to practice the skills they are developing in the classes they take while living with us. They get the chance to reflect and process their interactions, behaviors, and decisions.
This lasting change is just the first drop in a ripple effect of healing. This healing has the potential to impact the futures of so many people within the community.
We need your help to make stories like this possible. Will you donate today and begin the cycle of healing for mothers and children in Central Oregon?
Generational Healing Begins with Your Donation!
Donate right now to make a lasting impact on the lives of these women and children. Your contribution has the potential to start a ripple effect of healing and change for generations to come! We cannot provide these critical resources and community without you!