PERSPECTIVES: Safety and Stability Are Keys to Success for Survivors of Domestic Abuse and/or Mental Illness

by SETH WIEDERANDERS, mental health peer specialist at JAK’s Place, and SAMUEL BURRIS, JAK’S Place program director

How does one measure success? Material wealth is one thing – a nice car, a big  house and a yard – but there are other things to consider, too. Do you enjoy your  job? Do you have enough free time to do the things you love to do? Maybe you can finally afford to take that long vacation you’ve wanted for your whole life. 

We all have things that are important to us and make our  lives worth living. Success after recovery from mental illness and/or domestic abuse will look different for every person who achieves it. But survivors of domestic abuse and/or mental illness are looking for something many  of us take for granted: safety and stability. That means success could mean finding a place of relative stability, where the bills are paid and the threat of homelessness is no longer there. Or it may mean the achievement of a functional household, one that offers a place of love and safety. 

With those very basic human needs realized, a person is then free to take on the goals most everyone else has – like a new  job, a better neighborhood for the kids to grow up in, a more reliable car and  freedom to enjoy things that were unattainable for so long. 

Success to some of us is really just a feeling of contentment at the end of the day, a feeling of  accomplishment and satisfaction of the day’s tasks at work and at home. Downtime and adequate rest are essential to continued mental and physical health, and these things are only attainable in a safe and comfortable household  environment. 

You Are Not Alone

Mental illness and domestic abuse are two complex and sensitive topics that can have a profound impact on individuals and their loved ones. It is important to approach these subjects with empathy and understanding. 

It is crucial to raise awareness about the link between mental illness and domestic abuse to ensure that survivors receive the necessary support and resources. By understanding the connection between these two issues, we can work towards creating a society that fosters empathy, compassion and healing for those affected. 

If you or someone you know is experiencing domestic abuse or struggling with mental  health issues, please reach out to local helplines or support organizations for assistance. Remember, you are not alone, and help is available. HELP of Door County provides free services to victims of domestic abuse throughout the county. JAK’s Place is a free mental health resource center in Sturgeon Bay. 

Both of these services are free and local to our area in Door County.  

This article is brought to you in part by the Door County Coordinated Community Response (CCR) to Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Teams and the Door County Elder and Adult-at-Risk Interdisciplinary Team.