EUGENE, Ore. — Another Eugene nonprofit is receiving national attention.
Womanspace provides more than just domestic violence services like shelter and emergency planning. Years ago, it created a program to empower women.
Every year dozens of women find their way to Womenspace. Jane, as we’re calling her, took the first step last November after seeing a Womenspace brochure.
“I didn’t know I was in an abusive relationship at all for about ten years,” said Jane.
She had left her partner many times over ten years, but kept coming back.
“It ended with a fight and I had head injuries. It took coming to Womenspace, calling the crisis line, taking to them and going to support to realize I was indeed in an abusive relationship,” said Jane.
Jane received emergency assistance for herself and her three children, and a life line–peer support and counseling.
She signed up for empowerment classes, a program designed at Womenspace.
Dr. Krista Chronister, a counseling psychology faculty member at the University of Oregon, started work at Womenspace as a volunteer in 1996. She trained first to be a crisis line mediator, and then she worked her way to individual counselor. During that time she noticed a trend.
“Why is this happing? Why is there a revolving door of women coming back for service?” Chronister said. “Economic factors were at play that women more often than not didn’t have enough money escape an abusive relationship.”
Dr, Chronister collaborated with Womenspace to create ACCESS. It consists of five two-hour sessions led by University of Oregon doctoral students.
“Many woman forget what they’ve experienced violence forget what skills they have and forget what they’ve accomplished already,” Chronister said.
They help clients explore career opportunities, identify their skills and plan short-term and long-term goals.
The ACCESS Program in now in 20 different states. In addition to ACCESS, clients receive financial training called the Economic Empowerment Program (EEP).
They learn how to improve or obtain credit and apply for school loans.
Jane is one of about 100 women who’ve benefiting from these classes.
“When had nothing. We came here with absolutely nothing. Now I have a job. I have a place to live,” Jane said.
Her life, once marred by violence, now is filled is peace.
“My future is already bright for me right now,” Jane said.
Looking forward, she is filled with hope.
Womenspace is hosting its annual Black and White Gala event Friday, May 9. Organizers hope to raise $100,000 to help maintain these services.