Luisa Finds Healing…In her own Language

Posted by on Jul 25, 2016 in Blog | 0 comments

IMG_3868For the first twenty years of her life, Luisa knew only abuse.  Her father abused her mother – physically and emotionally – and when that wasn’t enough, he moved on to her.


He’d come home from work angry and any imperfections would send him into a blind rage.  On good days it would be name calling and insults, but on bad days he would hit them and threaten them with knives.  When given the chance to escape, Luisa took it by marrying the first man who promised he would never treat her that way.

In the beginning he kept his word, but little by little old familiarities returned.  If dinner took too long to make, he would make small, underhanded comments calling her “stupid” or complaining that she couldn’t do anything right.

However, it wasn’t until he moved them from their small town in Mexico to the United States that things really changed.  The abuse turned physical. Luisa was constantly hiding the bruises and cuts along her arms and chest.  Luisa was not only back in the life she swore she would never have again, but she was also alone in a foreign country.

Luisa suffered from her husband’s abuse for years. She wanted to keep the family together for the sake of her children. But once her children were grown and out of the house, she began to look for a way out of her toxic marriage.

She sought refuge with the women in her community and at her local church, but everyone sent her away.  In her circle, no one would help a woman that wanted to divorce her husband; it was then that Luisa found Domestic Abuse Project.

Luisa Joins a Women’s Group

Since March, Lucy, the Women’s Program Supervisor at DAP, has led a therapy group program entirely in Spanish in order to reach under-served women like Luisa.  “There is a huge need amongst [the Spanish-speaking] community,” Lucy tells us, “the waitlist for the next session is already full and I’ve gotten many requests for an aftercare group.”

This group has been made possible because of our partnership with the community agency, Centro Tyrone Guzman, who provides the space, support, and childcare needed.

The group sessions are very similar to DAP’s other women’s therapy groups; however, Lucy and her co-facilitator at Centro have worked hard to incorporate culturally specific aspects. “The Latina community is naturally a smaller, tighter knit group” says Lucy, “it’s not uncommon to find friends or even family members in the same therapy group.”

Likewise, many of these women have experienced other traumas in addition to those in their relationships.  Many have painful immigration stories: leaving family members or even children behind, or horrific border crossings.

In many cases, the United States did not offer the safe haven most imagined.  There are limited resources available and the language barrier has proven difficult to overcome.  Many women struggle to find jobs, and those who do are often victims of sexual harassment at work.

Healing from Trauma


Interested in supporting women like Luisa? We have a long waiting list for these services and only one Spanish-speaking therapist. Donate today and you could help us hire another Spanish-speaking women’s therapist!

Since joining the group, many of these women have finally been able to
overcome shame and secrecy, and to talk about the impact of abuse on their lives. Rather than battling trauma symptoms like depression, sleeplessness, and anxiety, the women are learning tools to process their trauma and reduce symptoms.

“I’ve gotten a lot of positive feedback from the women,” Lucy reports. “Many say that they feel more at peace and want to continue the healing process.”

In addition to feeling more comfortable with herself, Luisa has found a new support system.  She and four other women from group have become close friends.  They spend their weekends together doing fun activities.

But most importantly, these four women sat with Luisa in court during her divorce proceedings. They held her hand through all her feelings of doubt and insecurity.  In finding Domestic Abuse Project, Luisa found the therapeutic support she needed, but also real friends who truly understood her painful experience.

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