About fifteen women gather each week during the evening in a secure location to learn, grieve, heal, and encourage one another. The women are able to meet through the efforts and partnership of OC United and the Fullerton Police Department. This group is the first of its kind, and began meeting in September 2016.
While the women started as strangers, they now consider themselves as family.
These women are tied to each other by each having lived in an abusive relationship. The women enter with their heads held high and smiles on their faces. They greet each other with hugs and compliments. One woman shows off her manicure, and they all rave about the homemade cookies that were delivered to the group. They are welcoming and loving.
After the women have arrived and are settled in, the group leader, Donna, begins passing out handouts for the evening. This week, the women are discussing safety deficits, and learning how to surround themselves with safe and trustworthy people. The women take turns reading from the handouts, and are each given a chance to share or reflect. The women share their heartbreak. The loss of children. Homelessness. Hunger. PTSD. One woman shares, “I got tired of suffering and taking medication. The anxiety is so vicious.” Another explains, “I felt like my entire life was a waste. I felt like a failure. This support group saved my life.” Throughout the evening, the women both grieve with and encourage each other. They share tears and nodding agreements as others share their stories. One woman shares, “I hate the things my ex has done,” while another agrees and states, “It’s just hard for me to understand how God loves him.” Other women explain the importance of forgiveness, sharing that “letting go is for us,” and another encourages to “forgive him for your own sake.” At the end of the evening, Donna points out,
“There is a lot of healing here tonight.”
The healing does not end at the end of the evening. Women share that they will be checking in on one another throughout the week. Six of the women will become certified at the end of the month so that they are able to lead their own classes, in order to grow the program. One Fullerton police officer commented that the women are like Jesus’s disciples, going out to spread His love and good news.
Walking into the room, I expected to see brokenness. I expected walls put up. I expected to leave feeling a heavy burden. However, while I did get to see pain and honesty, I also saw joy. I saw the Holy Spirit working in this group with a power that could not be explained by any earthly terms.
Where I saw tears, I saw smiles. Where I saw hurt, I saw forgiveness.
I left the evening with a group to pray for, but also with a spirit of praise that God is moving and healing in mighty ways – and using normal people to do this. What a wonder to proclaim! I am very grateful to the women that welcomed me, and were willing to share both their pain and their praise with me.
OC United is eager to see the continued healing and spreading of God’s love from the Domestic Abuse Support Group. If you or someone you know is suffering in an abusive relationship, please contact OC United to learn more and get involved in our support group. If you are interested in supporting this program with your time or finances, please contact OC United as well to learn about ways to help.
Marketing Team Volunteer