October 8, 2019 Domestic Violence and Disabilities 0 Comments
Research indicates a strong connection between mental and physical health for trauma survivors.
This May, residents of Barrier Free Living’s Freedom House domestic violence shelter received free massages at the Reciprocity Foundation (view a virtual tour of Freedom House here).
The organization provides free and low-cost wellness services to vulnerable New Yorkers. Reciprocity recently opened a new Wellspace in downtown Manhattan.
Located in a nondescript office building, Reciprocity Wellspace features peaceful white walls and a stunning view of lower Manhattan. There is a meditation room, small library of spiritual and inspirational books, massage room, and open kitchen space.
Freedom House residents were offered water and lemonade as well as fresh fruit during their visit. The four residents who participated each received 30-minute chair massages.
The director of Reciprocity, Taz Tagore, explained that as shelter residents they were entitled to free weekly treatments, which could include meditation, yoga, massages or Reiki.
Freedom House has long taken a holistic approach to the healing journey for its residents. In addition to group and individual Domestic Violence counseling, residents can participate in biweekly yoga classes, movement workshops and a new art therapy group (read about the art therapy here)  In the past, transcendental meditation was offered on site.
Freedom House sources a variety of resources and studies in developing groups and healing work.
The Adverse Childhood Experiences survey demonstrates much higher rates of health problems for people who survived childhood trauma.
Bessel van der Kolk’s The Body Keeps the Score explains in detail the nonverbal ways in which trauma is communicated, such as chronic pain or creative expression.
The Freedom House residents who chose to attend the Reciprocity spa day all experience chronic pain that negatively impacts their daily life and can make it difficult to engage in activities of daily living.
Participants reported that the massages reduced their pain and tension, increased their flexibility, and gave them more energy.
For survivors of domestic violence with disabilities, many of whom became disabled or saw their symptoms worsen as a result of the abuse, receiving massages and other wellness treatments is an especially useful tool to help with their physical and emotional healing.

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