Domestic Violence Awareness Month at Huck House

Written By Claire Herbert, Victim Services Specialist

October, Domestic Violence Awareness month, is dedicated to providing education and awareness about Domestic Violence, commonly referred to as Intimate Partner Violence and includes Teen Dating Violence. According to breakthecycle.org, “nearly three out of four Americans personally know someone who is or has been a victim of domestic violence.” Through the Huckleberry House Transitional Living Program (TLP), we serve young people who have experienced domestic and/or family violence through our Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) program. We work closely with our young people to increase their feelings of safety and expand their support system as they transition to independent living.

Upon entering into VOCA young people are linked with a Counselor, Case Manager, Parenting Mentor (if parenting) and Victim Services Specialist (VSS). This team supports each young person develop a safety plan, begin to process their trauma, develop independent living skills, build healthy relationships and healthy boundaries, work towards educational and/or employment goals, and learn about the impact domestic violence and trauma can have on their children.

The TLP VOCA program works hard to build community among clients. There is a community office that is staffed by a Community Support Assistant (CSA) 24 hours a day that clients can visit to receive support, make food, or just hang out with staff or other clients. The CSA’s offer monthly groups to clients including cooking, exercise, learning about hair styles, knitting, and other topics clients are interested in exploring. There is also a monthly dinner held in the office for clients where they can engage with each other and their team. During dinner child-care is provided by a parenting mentor so our young people can have time to focus on themselves.

At TLP we aim to provide our survivors of domestic and family violence the tools and resources to transition to independent living and achieve their goals. Our staff does an excellent job of providing education and support to our clients and our client are great at building community and support among each other! Huckleberry House is also dedicated to providing community education to #breakthecycle of violence within our communities.

IHOP and Conversation with Homeless Youth

By Leslie Scott, MSSA LSW CTP-C

 

Even though it’s uncomfortable, we need to talk about homelessness.” – Transitional Age Homeless Youth

 

In 2018, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development awarded $6.1 million to the Community Shelter Board through the Youth Homelessness Demonstration Program. Unlike previous programs that have under taken to end Transitional Age Youth Homelessness (youth ages 18 to 24 years old), this program has mandated youth be a part of the decision-making process, by deciding where the funds go, how they are spent, and how we improve Transitional Age Youth homeless services.

 

The Community Shelter Board (CSB) has since formed the Youth Action Board (YAB), which is a group of Transitional Age Youth who are or have experienced homelessness and are willing to give feedback on Franklin County homeless services. I took some of the youth from the  Youth Action Board to IHOP for breakfast and spoke with them, and I wanted to share what I learned. I cannot say enough about the strength, dedication, and endurance each of these individuals have. I hope you enjoy their interviews, as much as I did.

 

What is one thing you want someone who is not nor has never been homeless to understand about the homeless experience?

Destiny H: Even though it’s uncomfortable, we need to talk about homelessness. People need to know that there are 15-year-old girls who are homeless or being sex trafficked. If people know, they will do something about it.

ANYONMOUS YOUTH: When I first went into the shelter, my son was only 5 weeks only and everyone at the shelter would talk to me about my son, which made it easier. There was an instant bond. Young adults need extra support, guidance, and an example of stability.

 

What kept you and people you know in the homeless cycle?

Destiny H: Transitional Age Youth are not prepared for life after being homeless.  Youth need independent living skills, so they can have experience and know how to be adults after they have stable housing.

ANYONMOUS YOUTH: I was in foster care at 7 years old, then placed with relatives who were abusive. At 14 years old, I moved to Columbus, OH with my aunt. This taught me “if something goes wrong, I can get out” when I should have been thinking about building stability for myself. Almost like the “grass is greener”. I am grateful for my current housing, as my only other option was low income housing after I left the shelter. Low income housing is very poor quality and I didn’t want that for my child. Instead of thinking “beggars can’t be choosers” think about helping someone find a “higher chance of succeeding”.

 

If you had another word for homelessness what would it be?

Destiny H: ‘Homelessness’ is a terrible word. I would use ‘without housing’ or ‘struggling’. ‘Struggling’ is a good option, because it doesn’t identify what someone is experiencing, while communicating they need help.

ANYONMOUS YOUTH: For me, one situation I experience, isn’t my identity. I don’t identify as homeless. I would replace this word with “needing help” or “just trying to figure it out”. My life taught me that I needed to be “independent” and do things on my own, I am learning now that there is a balance to being independent.

 

What do we get right about homeless services?

Destiny H: “That we need help”

ANYONMOUS YOUTH: When I started the Transitional Living Program (TLP), I was given a packet that included all the information I needed. It was very helpful and made me feel like an adult, while also being supported.

 

What is missing from our current services that you need? Or needed?

Destiny H: When I was in the YWCA Family Shelter, I was pregnant and sick. Shelter rules require each person to leave during the day time, without exception, but one staff member noticed I was sick and went to management (without me asking) to advocate for my needs. He continued to check in on me, give me snacks, and ask me how I was. This made a big difference for me. We need more staff that are trained to identify our needs, be caring, and advocate for us. Advocating is very important.

ANYONMOUS YOUTH: In the shelter, I had great casework, but what I needed was someone helping me with “what should you do” rather than “what have you done.” Young Adults need help planning for the long-term and understanding how to succeed. Programs that focused on me meeting with staff to discuss what actions I had taken were not helpful, as I didn’t know how to start. I also like that TLP allows me to make my own decisions and treats me as an adult, but still helps me with guidance and advice on next steps. TLP is more than a roof to sleep under for me.

 

What are five things you would change about current homeless services?

Destiny H:

  • Allow pregnant homeless youth or parenting homeless parents to be eligible for child care, prior to finding employment or enrolling in school.
  • Have shelters and facilities specifically for Transitional Age Youth, as well as staff who are willing to go to the youth. Even if it’s unsafe.
  • Have access to services in the shelters, such as job training, job linkage, and more.
  • We need to find better ways to assess a youth’s needs, then have staff to help them with those needs. Everyone needs to be treated the same way.
  • If a youth has family or friends who can provide housing, offer the youth transportation assistance to get to their family or friends.

ANYONMOUS YOUTH:

  • In the shelter, having to plan where to be each day makes it difficult to address needs and think with a clear head. I would change this rule.
  • Programs unconsciously reinforce survival instincts and need to focus on changing those instincts.

 

What was most helpful to you going through Huckleberry House program(s)?

Destiny H: The staff I have worked with are helpful, they care, and I immediately felt I could trust them. At other agencies for Transitional Age Youth, I like that there is chaos with boundaries. We can make our own decisions, able to roam, have access to a gym, access to laundry, and are safe. We don’t have to worry about our stuff being stolen or not sleeping at night or worse. Transitional Age Youth want boundaries, safety, and nonjudgmental interactions with other people.

ANYONMOUS YOUTH:  TLP “gives you room to breathe.” Staff also know and are accepting of when you fall off the wagon.

 

What else do you want people to know about your experience being homeless?

Destiny H: I have felt different and questioned the “system” since I was young. When I was diagnosed with ADHD/ADD, I was excluded from traditional classrooms and my peers at school started to bully me. Now, I am trying to make it on my own without any government assistance, after being homeless. When you have been homeless, you have to live differently and moving into housing is hard. I used to wake up in the middle of the night, in my new apartment, worrying someone would steal my stuff. Then I remembered where I was, but I was already having a panic attack.

ANYONMOUS YOUTH: I want people to understand that homeless persons or persons using welfare aren’t a stereotype of abusing the system, but people trying to get on their feet with no support. When your family isn’t there to support you, the system becomes your support. “We’re just people.”  I want someone experiencing homelessness to know you don’t need to be embarrassed.

Give Yoga Gives Back to Huck House

GIVE Yoga exists to build community around yoga for the good of the individual and the good of the world. GIVE Yoga is committed to Giving Yoga, Improving Strong Communities, and Developing Leaders. To fulfill this commitment, Huck House has been chosen as a partner nonprofit to which they will provide yoga to our transitional living program clients.

We envision that a practice of yoga, meditation and mindfulness will give our clients a new healthy coping skill. A lot of our clients suffer from sleep issues and unhealthy habits. We hope that the new program will support healing. Additionally, we hope to see some of our clients feeling inspired by the physical health benefits of yoga as an exercise, and feel more driven to continue to invest in their own physical well-being. 

 

Give Yoga funding will ensure up to 12 classes taught by Cecilia Shanahan, a Registered Yoga Teacher and Qualified Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) teacher. She will focus her practice on our young women in our transitional living program who are victims of domestic violence as well as our young expecting mothers.

 

Walk with a Doc

Walk with a Doc Mission

Three of our young people (ages 17-22) in our Transitional Living Program participated last night in a walk and conversation with a health specialist. The topic was stress reduction, which is very difficult for our young people who have been recently homeless and/or victims of domestic violence.

The therapist had them identify their stress tolerance meter, physical manifestations of stress and what things trigger each stress level. Then she had them think about physical, creative, social and relaxation coping skills and had them each do a type of guided imagery exercise.

It was a great conversation and opportunity to get outside and enjoy the snow. We are very thankful for Walk With A Doc and their vision for communities to access medical providers on a regular basis and receive valuable medical advice that extends beyond physical activity. To learn more and see where you can join or start a walk visit here.

December 17, 2018: Cookie Drop-Off

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Cookie Drop-Off

Monday, December 17, 2018 from 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.

Huckleberry House Carriage House – 1421 Hamlet Street, Columbus, OH 43201

Huck House will hold its second annual cookie walk for Transitional Living Program youth and families. Last year, our friends donated over 100 dozen cookies. Drop-off will take place on December 17 at the Huckleberry House Carriage House, 1421 Hamlet Street, Columbus, OH 43201.

We appreciate friends signing up as the date gets close so we can know what to expect. Sign-up details to come soon, follow us on Facebook for updates.

Domestic Violence Awareness Month

Healthy Me Healthy weOctober is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. This is a somber month recognizing violence that plagues more than 1 in 4 women and 1 in 7 men in our society. At Huck House, we also spend October honoring survivors of Domestic Violence living in our Transitional Living Program. In this month’s blog, I thought it would be most fitting to hear directly from a survivor, one of our Transitional Living Program graduates, and a strong, hard-working, kind and funny woman, mom, daughter and friend, who will remain anonymous here. Listen to her words below that she delivered in a courtroom after her children’s father violated a court protective order:

To be honest, I do not want to be here. I would rather be in school than standing in front of a courtroom opening up old wounds. Unfortunately, standing in front of you is my best shot at a normal life. I met Joe* when I was 17. I was a loving, optimistic girl starting her senior year without a care in the world. Unfortunately, I am no longer anything like that girl. Over the past three years, I have experienced enough trauma to alter my perspective on life. Domestic Violence is something that I never understood until I was the girl behind the fist. The first fight was the scariest. Joe beat me up and down his apartment complex. Being choked against a brick wall with a 240-pound man screaming in my face than later getting dragged through the mud was the cause of the first part of the old me dying. The next few weeks were crucial for the cycle to begin. I was manipulated to believe the famous line “it will never happen again” but of course it did. The abuse continued and every attempt to break away from him was instantly crushed. I block him, he calls private. I change my number, he shows up unannounced. Joe has threatened anyone who tried to come between us. One night he walked around my house and refused to leave. Another, he waited at my car early in the morning to catch me before I left for school. Joe attacked me in front of my entire university, leaving me to be carried and locked in the admission building until the police were able to detain him. I was later taken to the hospital with a concussion that took me out of school for the rest of the semester. Months later, Joe threatened me as I was in the delivery room about the name of my son. He insisted that if I didn’t name him Joe the 3rd “not even god’s going to know what I’m going to do to you.”

I had to find the strength to leave that toxic relationship for the sake of my children. I refuse for my son to treat a female that way or for my daughter to think it’s ok to be abused in any way. Since the birth of my kids, I have gotten a restraining order, and even went as far as switching cars and moved into a secured place for Domestic Violence survivors. I have decreased interactions with mutual friends. I have been working with a counselor and Domestic Violence advocate in attempts to recover from my trauma. I have struggled greatly with depression and anxiety. The stress of being a full-time parent, student and athlete is enough for one person. It is not fair for me to have to continue to deal with his unstable behavior that forces me in and out of a courtroom.

*Names changed for anonymity

This amazing young woman has advocated for herself and her children and is excelling as a mother, a student, and a collegiate athlete. The Domestic Violence Program team at Huckleberry House was honored to stand by her side as she read this statement in the courtroom and as she walked through the day-to-day life of surviving and healing.

At Huckleberry House, we believe survivors, we advocate for them, and we support them in working towards their goals. While in the Transitional Living Program, they are surrounded by support. In addition to all of the professional supports, we encourage a sense of community among these young people who have survived violence. Twice a month, we have a dinner for the entire Domestic Violence Program, homemade by staff or by our gracious volunteers. These dinners are about more than just food. We discuss topics like developing healthy relationships, healing from abuse, and growing self-esteem, among other topics. The most amazing part is watching these young people understand and support each other.

We are honored to stand with survivors during Domestic Violence Awareness Month and throughout every day of the year.

 

 

Stephanie Smith

Domestic Violence Program Supervisor, Transitional Living Program

Triple P comes to TLP

The Positive Parenting Program comes to the Transitional Living Program

About 70% of the young people in Huck House’s Transitional Living Program (TLP) have young children of their own. The Positive Parenting Program (Triple P) is an evidence-based program that provides several levels of intervention to meet families’ needs.

The Ohio Children’s Trust Fund has partnered with Nationwide Children’s Hospital and Syntero, Inc. to provide parent support programming to help decrease parenting stress and improve the well-being of children throughout central Ohio.  Last month, a group of TLP moms participated in a Triple P session.

One of the greatest benefits of participation is the opportunity to talk other moms, learn that everyone has parenting struggles, and find ways to support one another. Other benefits include an improved sense of parental competence, enjoyment of parenting, and improved child behaviors.

“The Triple P parenting class focused on the normalcy of discipline problems in the household,” said Lindsey Buzek, TLP Parenting Mentor. “Parents were able to walk through frustrating situations, as well as hear experts give examples to curb unwanted or disruptive behaviors.”

TLP Parenting mentor Kenosha Hines added that learning effective ways to praise children was also helpful for her TLP clients.

Helping Homeless Youth not only Survive, but Thrive

It boils down to helping homeless youth not only survive, but thrive.
It’s one thing to provide a homeless young person with a roof over her head. It’s another thing to teach that person how to successfully maintain a stable home so she can focus on her goals and improve her life. The TLP program helps transition-age youth, ages 17-21, develop essential life skills that will serve them well beyond their time in the program.

Getting Angel and Marcus “Home”

Traditionally, the TLP program works with individual young men or women. Some of them have children of their own. But when we met Angel, our program had the unique opportunity to help support an entire young family.

Angel was a good student with a lot of potential. But due to her mom’s mental health issues, she frequently found herself out of the home without a place to stay. Then Angel became pregnant. Between trying to parent her daughter and find a stable place to live, Angel’s school attendance began to suffer. Her high school counselor took notice and contacted Huck House.

The Huck House TLP team connected with Angel and her boyfriend, Marcus, when they were living in the family shelter, desperately trying to find a way to care for their infant son. When the family entered the TLP program, the young couple received the support they needed to flourish. With a safe place to stay, they were able to care for their son and focus on their individual goals at the same time. Both Angel and Marcus were committed to giving their son a better start in life than what they had experienced. And so, with their team’s support, they worked hard to set and achieve goals. Ultimately, Marcus was able to secure a well-paying, full-time job while Angel finished high school.

As Angel and Marcus prepared to finish the program, their TLP team helped the young family secure permanent low-income housing. Marcus will continue to work while Angel attends Columbus State. The couple is using the skills gained in the program to parent their son and maintain a secure and healthy home for him and themselves.
“Angel and Marcus are amazing young people with a true desire to improve their futures and break the cycle of generational poverty for their own child,” says Amanda Glauer, LSW, TLP Team Leader. “The TLP program provided the guidance and support they needed to learn how to make it on their own. Now, instead of a young family on the streets or in a shelter, they’re living independently and thriving. They just needed the opportunity to make that happen.”

Violence in teen relationships is more common than you think

Stephanie Smith, Huckleberry House’s Crime Victim Specialist, reacts to a violent assault on a local 15-year old by her ex-boyfriend.  Huckleberry House offers our support of this strong young woman and her family on the difficult road to healing. This story is tragic, heart-breaking, and shocking. However, for many teenagers and young women, the story […]

The 2017 Huck House Transitional Living Program (TLP) Bus Tour Challenge

The 2017 Huck House Transitional Living Program (TLP) Bus Tour Challenge Last Friday, the Huck House Transitional Living Program (TLP) Team participated in the first-ever TLP Bus Tour Challenge. The challenge was designed by TLP manager Amanda Glauer. Despite her team’s loss, Amanda was happy about the day and everything the team learned. She answers […]