Women’s Group: A Virtual Safe Space to Come Together

Women’s Group: A Virtual Safe Space to Come Together

Published May 2021

One year into the COVID-19 pandemic, it is clear the public health impact has extended far beyond that of the virus itself. Around the nation and across communities, lockdowns and social distancing have amplified family conflict. In some cases, this has left those within the home emotionally or physically unsafe, and more isolated than ever.

As New Jersey’s statewide domestic and sexual abuse program for Jewish families, Project S.A.R.A.H. has not only adapted its services to meet the unique needs of this pandemic period–but has also expanded them. This means that, in addition offering free and low-cost tele-therapy sessions for adults, children, and families, Project S.A.R.A.H re-introduced its Women’s Group last summer to show those in high-conflict relationships–current or past–that they are not alone.

The Women’s Group initially began as a single eight-week series, offered over Zoom, geared toward exploring the differences between healthy and unhealthy relationships. Project S.A.R.A.H. clinicians presented and facilitated discussion around material illustrating patterns of power and control found in abusive relationships; various forms of domestic violence; and reasons why many people remain in abusive marriages.

Almost immediately, the group proved itself to be a remarkably cohesive virtual space, where women—some married, some who had left abusive relationships—felt safe talking, listening, and offering support about issues many were otherwise silent about. As members requested to continue beyond the eight weeks, Project S.A.R.A.H. recognized that Women’s Group was filling a critical need and developed a Part II series. Focused on identifying and coping emotions stemming from past or present domestic abuse, each meeting of this series features clinician-facilitated discussions around how to connect with, regulate, and respond to the needs of these emotions.

The Women’s Group is now a fundamental part of Project S.A.R.A.H.’s core services. The Part I and Part II series runs regularly, rotating between weekday, weeknight, and Sunday evening slots to accommodate members’ busy schedules and time zones. Additionally, a Part III Women’s Group is set to begin in April. The theme: Bringing your strongest self to current and future relationships. Attendees, many who began with that first Zoom series last summer, will be invited to consider the many types of relationships in their lives—including friendship, professional, parenting, and marital. They will explore ways to navigate boundaries, while responding to emotions that come up during times of conflict or disagreement.

Now, more than ever, Project S.A.R.A.H. is hard at work helping individuals, families, and therapeutic groups navigate and explore high conflict and abusive relationships.. For more information about any of our programs, please visit projectsarah.org or call us at 973-777-7638 x643.

Cara Harmon, LCSW
Project S.A.R.A.H. Staff