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Voices of Strength and Compassion: Serving Survivors of Domestic and Sexual Violence

Categories: Center for Safety and Empowerment, News

content warning

The following content includes information and testimonials related to domestic violence and sexual assault, which may be triggering for some readers. Please take care of yourself as you read and engage in this information. For immediate assistance, please contact our 24/7 helpline at 1-888-822-2983.

Creating a Space for Healing

For over 30 years, the YWCA Northeast Kansas Center for Safety and Empowerment has been providing a safe and supportive environment for survivors to seek help, connect with resources, heal, plan, and move forward with the care of our incredible Advocates. Every day, Advocates answer calls to the 24/7 helpline, meet with survivors in our offices, provide a safe space at the YWCA Day Center for Human Trafficking, and walk with survivors through any legal processes they seek after experiencing sexual violence.

Every day, our number one goal is to empower survivors on the path they choose as they heal, recover, and grow. Keep reading to learn about the impact that Advocates make in the life of survivors who access our services, and our Advocates’ reasons for continuing to show up for survivors: Their Y(W).

Click here to support the Center for Safety and Empowerment with an online donation.

From Survivors: Gratitude, Strength, Solidarity

“So helpful and supportive when I need it most! Thank you!” – Rural CSE Survivor

“If I would have known then, whenever it may have been, when someone told me that I didn’t have to work like that anymore, it gave me permission. It was the beginning of something. You don’t have to do this no more, ya’ know.” -Survivor

“The help was always there. You guys just always helped. It was up to me to make it. I had to be more for me, really do it and not just think about it. Like to get out of that life, it took me over three years. But you can, you know. You have to give yourself a chance. That is what you guys have always tried to do, help us as women who are emotional and vulnerable and get into that trap. To realize it can get real scary out there and bad, but you can succeed and get out of it. You can. You have to give yourself a chance, and that is what you guys have helped us to see. That is what I believe, but I can’t really say for anybody else. I have to look back and see that it is true because you guys have helped us and helped me a lot. It has allowed me to just breathe and have a chance. Ya’ know, for once in my life.” – Survivor

“I was just talking to my friends about how your services have helped to make my life better! You are really good at [supporting survivors]! Keep doing it! Thank you!” – Survivor

“I’m so glad I called you! I knew that you would know how I can best help my client in need!” – Community Partner

I would never have gotten through that without you there. Thank you so much for everything you’ve done to help me!” – Survivor

“I just wanted to say thank you for helping my friend! She and I have been working on her exit for a while, and I am so proud of her! She told me that seeing your smiling face in the office helped make the whole process less scary for her!” – Friend of a Survivor

“I want to express my gratitude to YWCA! My advocate was so kind and helpful. You have helped me feel free again, and it feels so good. I am so very grateful for your help. Thank you!” – Survivor

“Our Advocate was so helpful, thorough, and caring. We cannot thank her enough for all that she did to support us during this difficult time.” – Survivor

I feel so safe here.” – Survivor

“Once you take that first step to get help, I promise you it’s better on the other side.” – Survivor

From Advocates: This Is My Y(W)

Every day, Advocates and staff at the Center for Safety and Empowerment show up to do the difficult work of supporting survivors and working to end domestic violence and sexual assault. We recently asked CSE staff to share their reasons for showing up every day, their Y(W).

Why did you choose to work at YWCA Northeast Kansas?

“I used to live at shelter and wanted to come back to work there to give back to the agency that helped me change my life.” – K.K., Advocate

“I chose to work here because I wanted to work for an organization/agency that stood for the same values that I do. The YWCA’s mission statement demonstrates these values.” – Rebekah Zimmerman, CSE Rural Project Coordinator

What is your favorite part of what you do at the YWCA?

“My favorite part of the work here is that I am connected to a mission that truly and deeply matters to me. As a survivor of sexual assault and as someone who was impacted by domestic violence in my own home, I am so passionate about the work being done here. This work is my fire, my heart, my soul, my life. This has become a healing space for me and a place so special to my identity and my growth in my own journey of healing. In this space, I have moved from survivor to thriver. I have gained the proud titles of advocate and ally. This place has taught me that although my trauma happened, it has shaped me, but it does not define me. There is more to my story. I have truly found my voice as I have become empowered through my connection with other survivors, through holding space for the stories of those before me, beside, me and those who will come after me. I have truly bloomed, grown, and blossomed here.” – Emily Steimel-Handy, CSE Public Education Coordinator

“My favorite part about what I do at the YWCA NE KS is that at the Center for Safety and Empowerment, I feel a sense of purpose and fulfillment knowing that I’ve dedicated my career to helping survivors regain peace and autonomy.” – Rebekah Zimmerman, CSE Rural Project Coordinator

“Connecting with survivors and bearing witness to the incredible resiliency of the human spirit.” – L.H., Advocate

What is one thing that makes you feel confident about your work at YWCA Northeast Kansas?

“One thing that makes me feel confident about my work at the YWCA is when client’s randomly reach out give thanks and appreciation.” – Patrice Haggerty, Shelter Manager

“I am surrounded by incredible people who support me and challenge me in ways that help me be a better advocate for the clients we serve. I am so grateful to be a part of team of people who are equally dedicated to this work and who are always looking for ways to enhance and improve upon our service delivery. Being a part of this incredible group of people not only makes me feel confident about my work, but it also redirects my focus to the core values of victim/survivor advocacy.” – Becca Spielman, CSE Program Director

“Hearing about a client achieving a goal with our support.” – Brenna Visocsky, Human Trafficking Program Coordinator

What does YWCA’s mission mean to you?

“The YWCA’s mission is more of a purpose to me. It allows me to continually learn and grow in a way that will hopefully benefit others.” -V.R., Advocate

“What I appreciate most about YWCA’s mission is that embodies a lifelong commitment, a journey that doesn’t stop when my shift ends for the day. It’s about every moment, every interaction that I have. It is a goal that continues to push me forward; it doesn’t allow for complacency. To achieve the mission of eliminating racism, empowering women, and promoting peace, justice, freedom, and dignity for all is never truly complete. It’s about creating a system of accountability that challenges me and challenges systems that have been created to benefit those in power and to oppress those who are not. It is only through constantly working toward this mission that we will find safety in relationships, within systems, and within the larger society.” – Becca Spielman, CSE Program Coordinator

The YWCA Center for Safety and Empowerment provides FREE and CONFIDENTIAL services to victims of domestic and sexual violence, stalking, and human trafficking in Shawnee, Jackson, Brown, and Wabaunsee Counties in Kansas. Advocates are available through our free and confidential helpline 24 hours a day, 7 days a week over the phone: 1-888-822-2983.