A Place of Refuge for Survivors of Torture: Sarah’s ... an Oasis for Women | The Center for Victims of Torture

A Place of Refuge for Survivors of Torture: Sarah’s ... an Oasis for Women

Thursday, June 16, 2016


For many women who are survivors of torture, the demands of daily life – things like finding housing and jobs, shopping, cooking and more – can feel overwhelming. But as part of the healing journey for a number of clients, CVT has long recommended a place where they can find support and empowerment. For years, CVT has referred clients to Sarah’s … an Oasis for Women, where women without children who do not have a home or other resources can find housing, support and community.

Amanda McDonald, CVT social worker and case manager, has been referring clients to Sarah’s for more than three years. She currently serves as liaison to Sarah’s and attends meetings of the advisory council there, a role the CVT social workers rotate.

Sarah’s is committed to the empowerment of women, and it holds safety and dignity as core components of its mission. “Sarah’s approach is rooted in the dignity of women,” Amanda said. “They have a strong focus on empowerment, helping women get back on their feet and able to act independently again. This can be a real challenge for those who’ve been victimized.”

Amanda said she feels confident every time she refers a survivor to Sarah’s. “I know it’s a safe place,” she said. She appreciates the focus on the individual and what she wants next in her life. As an example, the staff want to know clients’ goals, and they offer networking connections, volunteer and paid employment opportunities as well as health, legal, education and other opportunities to help them meet those goals. According to Amanda, the approach they take begins by thinking “let’s think ahead and reconnect you to what’s important to you, what you hope for in your life.”

Women live at Sarah’s for up to one or two years. The women are asked to engage in the place, to invest their time in the community there – they have regular chores and prepare meals. In addition, when they are able to work, they are asked to contribute financially to the living community. Amanda noted that part of the value for those who have survived torture is that they are living together with others and developing interpersonal skills, which helps with confidence but also with acculturation – many women are from different countries, with varying language skills.

“I really love Sarah’s. I have seen a number of my clients and others’ have total transformations there,” Amanda said. “Having stabilization allows the mental space to be able to heal from one’s wounds. This cannot happen if you don’t feel safe.”

Sarah’s … an Oasis for Women is holding a celebration of their 20th Anniversary the evening of June 23. Click here to register.


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