Self-Care for Survivors and Supporters

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Benedictine offers resources for students interested in self-care. (Photo Credit: Benedictine University Counseling Center)

Angela Plys

News Writer

The counseling center and the prevention peer educators at Benedictine University joined together last Thursday for a discussion-based workshop on self-care, with an emphasis on offering support and creating awareness for domestic violence survivors. 

For those who are still interested, the counseling center offers free sessions for Benedictine students, and it is open Monday through Friday, with designated office hours and available resources on the university website.

Self-care was defined as “recharging your human battery,” by Shirin Ahmed, a clinical intern at the counseling center.  This definition refers to a famous quote by Anne Lamott, that reads “almost everything will work again if you unplug it for a few minutes, including you.”

“Unfortunately, many survivors view self-care as a comfort they cannot afford or don’t deserve, as many of these victims of abuse have been forced to put the needs of their abuser above their own,” said Layan Abdelhadi, a peer educator.  “They often don’t have the confidence or self-esteem to feel like they need to take care of themselves …, because they are locked into a relationship that forces them to take care of the other member only.”

The workshop covered many areas of self-care, including physical, psychological, emotional, spiritual, and work/school-related methods. 

According to Abdelhadi, it is key that survivors “do not make their “problems” or experiences their identity.”  By allowing themselves to have genuine emotional reactions or acting on behalf of their own spiritual, physical, or psychological needs, survivors are “empowered and enabled to take ownerships of their lives again.” 

To close the workshop, Abdelhadi lead the attendees in a “body awareness” exercise, which gave the participants a moment to focus on their breathing and the different parts of their body.  The exercise reinforced the main message of the workshop, as it was “a reminder to take care of one’s whole self, rather than someone else’s whole self,” as summarized by Abdelhadi.