Counseling victims & addressing the mental health needs of our community

Did you know that Hubbard House has been involved in helping to build the mental health capacity of Jacksonville? In fact, members of our staff recently spoke at a state-wide conference regarding the success of our efforts. It is our hope that our successes will help other domestic violence centers in Florida.

A year and a half ago, thanks to a grant from the Women’s Giving Alliance, Hubbard House created the Rise! program which provides mental health counseling to female victims of domestic violence. Prior to the grant, Dr. Gail Patin, Chief Operating Officer of Hubbard House, conducted a needs assessment of Jacksonville and saw that not only did we have a mental health counseling gap, Jacksonville has a particular need for counselors who understand the unique needs of domestic violence victims. Together, Hubbard House and the Women’s Giving Alliance decided to change that. Hubbard House now has a master’s level counselor on staff who  provides trauma-informed counseling as well as training and supervising master level interns, thus increasing the mental health capacity of our community.

Just last year, we provided 1,176.5 hours of counseling to 210 clients. Here’s just one survivor story:

Izydora is a 33-year-old Hispanic woman who is effervescent, full of life, and concerned for the welfare of others. Hearing her story, it is difficult to believe that she could still have trust in others.

Izzy’s mother forced her out of the house at age of 16 and Izzy found herself living on the streets. She was introduced to Mike by friends and while she was not interested in him at first, he charmed his way into her life. They had been dating for just six months when Izzy’s roommate stopped paying her half of the rent and Izzy lost her job. Mike offered to share his house until she could find another job and get back on her feet. From the moment she moved in, Mike began controlling Izzy by isolating her from others. The house had bars on the doors and windows for which he had the only key. When Mike would leave the house, he would lock Izzy inside. He began calling her names, taking her money. She began to see the pattern of Mike’s alcohol and drug abuse. He would be gone all day, drinking and using cocaine. When he came home at night, the nightmare would begin.

Izzy ended up in the hospital four separate times due to Mike’s physical assaults. He stayed in the exam room and would not let her speak with the doctor or nurses by herself. Mike would tell the medical staff that Izzy had seizures and that was how she ended up with all of the bruises. The violence continued to escalate. One day, Mike started drinking in the morning and then left the house for the entire day. Upon his return, Mike began to argue with Izzy and punched her in the head several times. When the last punch sent her reeling to the floor, Mike jumped on top of her, grabbed her by the throat, and started to strangle her. Izzy saw stars and began to pass out. The last thing she heard Mike say was “My face will be the last face you will ever see.”

When Izzy regained consciousness, she told Mike that she wanted to go to her mother’s place. Once there, Mike began to slap Izzy in front of the people standing around watching what was going on. When Izzy got upstairs to her mother’s apartment, she called 911. The police, EMTs, and evidence technicians soon arrived to assist Izzy. The police also gave her a pamphlet on her rights as a victim and in it, Izzy found the Hubbard House hotline number. Izzy called Hubbard House, explaining what had happened to her. She met individually with her counselor and attended groups weekly, refusing to let the events of the last months keep her down. The Rise! Counselor helped Izzy work through her feelings of powerlessness and provided strategies for dealing with the trauma she experienced. Izzy chose to change her job to one that left her feeling more empowered and in control of her life. Izydora is moving forward with her life, feeling stronger and happier than ever.

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