When first entering a YWCA Dayton domestic violence shelter, you can expect multiple essentials to be available: shampoo, a warm blanket, a healthy snack. For one client, though, that list also included a guitar.
“We had a client who was very talented and artistic – she enjoyed drawing, crocheting, and expressed to staff how she missed playing acoustic guitar and singing,” said Heather Seymour, domestic violence case manager. “She explained how it is therapeutic for her and gets her through hard times.”
While musical instruments aren’t a typical donation YW receives, shelter staff were quick to secure a guitar for the client to use during her stay.
“This client arrived in shelter with one backpack full of belongings to her name. We were able to provide her with clothing, personal care items, housewares, and yes, a guitar. It is just as important to have a room full of necessities and things to make you comfortable as it is to have items that allow you to express yourself,” Seymour said.
During her shelter stay, the client could frequently be found making music, which proved to be an added benefit for other clients, too.
“She played her guitar and sang, whenever she liked. Our other clients all said they really enjoyed hearing her beautiful voice and guitar,” Seymour said. “According to one client, it calmed her at night.”
The musical outlet also helped the client – who celebrated her eighth month of sobriety while in shelter – move through trauma toward recovery.
“She constantly sought ways to get her life back on track,” Seymour said. “She made contact with shelter staff at least once a day to share her accomplishments, to ask for advice, or to offer to help in shelter. She was an encouragement to other shelter clients.”
Like many domestic violence survivors, the client faced several barriers. A mother of multiple children, she had lost custody due to the domestic violence. Having fled abuse, she had to reapply for her birth certificate, a critical document that allows you to obtain a new Social Security card – a requirement for employment and housing applications. Her glasses – broken by her abuser – needed replaced, and she had extensive dental damage resulting in part from altercations with her abuser.
“She was eager to obtain full-time employment and was really looking ahead with a positive attitude,” said Seymour, who continues to provide the client with aftercare services. “She was ready to create a new life where her batterer could no longer control her and she could reunite with her children in a safe and stable environment. She is just as proud of herself as we are of her.”
If you, or someone you know, is experiencing domestic violence, YWCA Dayton can help. 24/7 Crisis Hotline: 937-222-SAFE.