Self-care in the trees for survivors of domestic & family violence

March 1, 2024

If you were to picture a group for survivors of domestic and family violence, you probably imagine a group of women sitting on chairs, sipping cups of tea, and nervously engaging in small talk. This couldn’t be further from reality for women attending CatholicCare’s ‘Treetops growing empowerment climb’, an experience for survivors of domestic and family violence. 

Held over ten Wednesdays in 2024, this is a free outing for women wanting some self-care with a challenge. Women are invited to take some time out in nature and connect with others. This experience is aimed at women who are no longer in crises and are currently safe.  

“It’s an out of the box group,” says CatholicCare’s Domestic Violence Project Specialist, Danielle. “You’re not sitting around in a group in a formal setting. You’re out in the bush, under the trees and you can talk as much or as little as you feel. Being out in nature opens up different pathways in your mind to recognise the strength you have within and to realise how far you’ve come on your journey.” 

Domestic Violence Project Specialist, Natasha says, “As mums and wives we are usually so focused on experiences that will benefit our kids that we forget ourselves. This is an opportunity for women to meet their own needs that are so often overlooked.”  

The women that come are often so frightened and have little confidence. “But once they are up in the trees, they realise how strong and powerful they are,” says Danielle. “They are so excited to go home and show their kids photos of what they have done.” 

Before Tegan* attended the Treetops group she hadn’t left her home for more than 12 months. “I didn’t have the confidence to go for my driver’s licence but after conquering Treetops, I know I can do anything. I don’t like groups but there is a freedom in climbing on your own.” 

Participants are provided with a light lunch and an opportunity to discuss the challenges they have overcome and how they can use the skills they implement at Treetops to move forward in their lives. There is no pressure to talk, many prefer to just climb. Danielle urges anyone considering this experience to give it a go, “This might be just the challenge you need to forge a new path in life and step out in confidence.”  

The ‘Treetops growing empowerment climb’ will be held on the following Wednesdays (10.00am – 2.00pm) at Treetops Adventure 1 Red Hill Rd Wyong Creek on 20 March, 10 April, 8 May, 12 June, 24 July, 14 August, 11 September, 16 October & 13 November 2024.

CatholicCare also offer a four-week online workshop called Shark Cage that assists women who have experienced domestic and or sexual violence. Our free Shark Cage workshop is a trauma informed five step program of interventions designed to heal and empowers participants who have experienced repeated abuse such as family or domestic violence or sexual assault. The group draws on a human rights approach in assisting participants to develop or regain a sense of their rights. It helps women to identify boundary violations and offers strategies for change – reducing the likelihood of entering further abusive relationships.  

For women on the Central Coast, CatholicCare will be running a Regaining Self group in Wyong in Term 2. This is a free support group exploring the affects and impacts on domestic and family violence while building on resilience and your self-worth. 

For more information and bookings please email info@catholiccaredbb.org.au, call 1800 324 924 or visit our website here.

* Name changed to protect participant’s privacy

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