Starting February, Got Your Back Sista will be offering the Empowerment Circle to build community, strength and healing among survivors of domestic violence, facilitated by a donation of almost $13,000 from employees of Newcastle Permanent.
The 90-minute support sessions take place at Got Your Back Sista Village HQ – 15 Elizabeth Street, Tighes Hill – and cover a different topic each week.
Led by a registered counsellor, participants learn skills such as resilience, self-care and kindness to self and others as a way to rebuild their lives after experiencing domestic violence.
According to participant Frankie Grandilis, the Empowerment Circle is also “an opportunity to connect with other women”.
“The Empowerment Circle is a chance for women like me who have experienced domestic violence to come together and share our stories, talk about issues we’re facing or particular emotional struggles we’re having,” Ms Grandilis said.
“What’s empowering about it is that you walk away feeling like you’re normal, and what you’re going through is not exclusive to you but common amongst survivors. I always feel a huge sense of relief after I’ve been and I take away a lesson or something new every time.”
Ms Grandilis spoke of one such lesson that occurred in an Empowerment Circle session that really resonated, when her transition property accommodation was finishing and she needed to find a new home.
“I was really struggling with the fact that we would need to move again and my children would have to change schools again,” she said.
“The guilt I felt as a mother for not being able to build a foundation for my kids was consuming me. I brought this up at an Empowerment Circle and the social worker said that sometimes I need to be the adult and make the tough decisions, and that is OK.
“It was a real lightbulb moment for me as I realised I couldn’t continue to be shrouded in guilt, I had to step up and take charge of our situation and make the hard call, knowing that children are resilient and what they needed from me was stability, not guilt.”
Kirsten Lyndon, Manager, Partnerships and Community Engagement at Newcastle Permanent, said Got Your Back Sista was a popular choice for employees to put their donation towards.
“Our CommunityAssist Employee Donation Program receives so many recommendations for wonderful causes to donate to, but Got Your Back Sista really resonates with our people,” said Ms Lyndon.
“We love that Got Your Back Sista provides the tools for people to take care of themselves, all while creating a strong sense of community and togetherness to show that no one needs to be alone.
Melissa Histon, Founder and CEO of Got Your Back Sista, said the charity was incredibly grateful to Newcastle Permanent’s employees for selecting them as the recipient of this donation.
“As the name suggests, our Empowerment Circle sessions are one of the most empowering and valued services our clients experience at Got Your Back Sista. As a group of often highly vulnerable women, it’s liberating for them to see that what they are experiencing or feeling is very normal,” said Ms Histon.
“We are so grateful to every Newcastle Permanent employee who donated. Because of their funding, we can ensure we continue to have a professional councillor facilitate these sessions, which is of enormous benefit for our clients.”
For women thinking of joining in but feeling hesitant, Ms Grandilis gave the assurance that she still gets nervous ahead of sessions.
“When, for years, you’re told that you’re not good enough, it’s hard to shake it from your mind, so whenever I’m with a group of people – especially people I don’t know – your monkey-mind starts and all the negative talk in your head makes you doubt that people will like you,” Ms Grandilis said.
“It’s so hard to be vulnerable, but literally the minute you walk through the Got Your Back Sista door, there’s this feeling of calm and acceptance.
“Nothing is ever hard there, and now I really look forward to being there and being a positive contributor.”
To register for the Empowerment Circle, please contact the Got Your Back Sista team on 4989 2777 or email@example.com