Each year we honor the “Women’s Self-Empowerment Week,” but it’s a regular topic of interest that we approach on a daily basis. Here within all our OPI Living Programs, we have various group therapy options in which participants are given a safe environment to use their voice, express themselves, and share their experiences and thoughts with others.
In particular, our Empowerment Group was created in an effort to allow those that have experienced some form of trauma to have a safe place, which allows them to feel empowered again through finding their voice and creating a life outside the trauma.
So many young adults, including young women in particular, let their traumas define and dictate who they are and they became lost in that sense of self. They’re not able to see or imagine a future that feels free from their trauma, so they often feel trapped. Frustration that builds from trapped feelings can come out in self-destructive behavior, because they didn’t have a clear voice to say, “I need help,” or “I am afraid.”
Each individual wants to take back the control in their lives and reach their goals, and not let the trauma have that power. This can be seen through connecting with others with similar experiences and feeling less alone, accomplishing minor goals on the path to their major goals, and by diving into self-discovery (since this was something lost in the trauma). Empowerment for them is to find who they are and what they want, because they come to realize that the trauma does not define them.
For all our OPI Living female program participants, we offer a Women’s Group, which has been running consistently for the past couple of years. The Women’s Group provides a space for our young women to develop and find their voice and to check in with each other in a safe, all-female environment. This group varies from topic-based to process-based approaches, depending on the day and group that attends. Here they have a chance to discuss issues such as relationships, building/maintaining boundaries, family of origin, work, anger management, and self-esteem, just to name a few. We also provide occasional Women’s Outings, which have ranged from getting mani/pedi’s, painting pottery, and women’s self-defense classes, coordinate through our Department of Extracurricular Activities. Through various art projects, music, open discussions and group processing, the goal is for each individual to find their voice and feel empowered.