Confidential Support for DV Survivors

The U.S. Department of Justice estimates that about 25 percent of women and 7.6 percent of men were raped or physically assaulted by a current or former partner or date at some point in their lives. Groups like Womenspace, Sexual Assault Support Services and the Domestic Violence Clinic provide survivors of domestic violence with different forms of support to help them pick up the pieces, but survivors seeking a more private place to look for help have had a little more trouble.

Ouvé de Laage and Joanie DeVore are now leading small support groups designed to help women who are especially concerned about confidentiality and safety. “We are filling a particular niche,” de Laage says. She says that sometimes she and DeVore see women at the group they lead at Womenspace, and then they disappear. De Laage says it’s because coming into a marked building where they could be recognized feels too risky for some.

The 10-woman groups that de Laage and DeVore are leading last for six or 12 weeks, and the location is only known to the women in the group. The groups are meant to provide a better understanding of abusive patterns and their consequences over time in a supportive environment. “You cannot function anymore. You don’t know who you are” after a long cycle of abuse, DeVore says. “The abuser is constantly belittling you or being humiliating or denying your feelings and emotions.”

To learn more about domestic violence and support groups, see