Victims of domestic violence need all the support they can get to break away from the hold their abusers have over them. It takes a lot of courage and support for anyone to make an escape from this scenario, as the repetitive violence -- physically and emotionally -- often leave the victim feeling guilty, worthless, humiliated and undeserving of help. Support group activities that help those abused regain their sense of self-worth, self-love and self-esteem can forever change their lives.
Group Building Activities
Support groups can help the abused gain trust in themselves and others. But in the beginning of a support group, members may be wary, shy or reluctant to participate. Activities that help them engage with each other in a positive way can affect how well the group operates. Place small household objects or items in a basket, and have the group pass the basket around, each member taking a turn picking an item, explaining to the group why they picked it and what it means to them. This can help group members open up about themselves without having to get too personal right away.
Creating a Safe Space
Victims of domestic violence don't know what it feels like to be in a safe space where they can be speak up freely without fear of retribution. It helps to create an environment in a group setting where members share their experiences, as this helps them process what has happened to them. This applies to adults as well as children, who may have experienced or witnessed acts of domestic violence. When victims begin sharing their feelings in a safe environment, they can begin to heal.
Self-Confidence Building Activities
Domestic violence victims usually have little to no self-confidence; they are used to being belittled and insulted and often experience physical abuse for disagreeing with their abuser. They are made to feel worthless. Group activities that encourage them to talk about their ideas, their dreams and their hobbies -- or anything that they enjoy -- can help them regain and build their self-confidence. For example, an activity that requires members to dress up and make a presentation on a favorite topic can help them feel more confident when shared in front of the support group.
Activities that help victims regain their self-esteem in a way that makes them feel worthy can have long-lasting effects. For example, ask each member of the group to write down a strength that helped them cope with the effects of domestic violence. Each person in the circle is then asked to share this information with the group. When the speaker finishes, other members of the group provide positive feedback on how they felt when they heard the speaker's story.
Ideally conclude the group session with an activity that leaves the members feeling good about themselves and each other. At the end of a session, ask members to share something valuable they learned from the meeting that day. Ask them to share something they can do, learned in the session that helps them plan or begin to plan their life in a meaningful way. Each member can then share the results at the next meeting.
As a native Californian, artist, journalist and published author, Laurie Brenner began writing professionally in 1975. She has written for newspapers, magazines, online publications and sites. Brenner graduated from San Diego's Coleman College.