Program to help at risk women

“Sanctuary for Change is a training program designed to provide women with histories of trauma and alcohol and drug abuse with tools and knowledge to reduce risks associated with HIV/STI transmission.”

March 14, Family Recovery Center will host the innovative and engaging program to help at-risk women with sexual recovery.

Kim Ford, clinical supervisor at Family Recovery Center, says, “I have experienced a growing concern that in Columbiana County, substance use is a way that many women cope with childhood sexual abuse, date rape, and other abusive relationships. Many women who have experienced sexual abuse feel out of control of their own lives, lost in pain, confusion and self-hatred. My goal is to help women learn how to stay away from situations that make them feel unsafe, to make safe choices for themselves, and learn what healthy relationships have in common. I want to help abused women find healing, learn to live more fully, and be free from the fear and confusion that are created by sexual abuse.”

“Sanctuary for Change is an avenue to discover and claim the self within you that deserves to be revealed…Allow yourself the opportunity to learn and develop with other women who have traveled similar paths and who, like you, wish to grow and become all that you and they can become,” writes the author, Germayne Tizzano, Ph.D., president and founder of Views from a Tree House (

This training program involves 32 hours of training and is organized into 16 two-hour sessions that assist women in gaining knowledge that will help them develop skills and positive expectations to make informed decisions regarding their own sexual health.

Women who have been traumatized by abuse are reported to have unsafe sex, a number of sex partners, engage in prostitution (selling sex for money) and suffer addiction to alcohol and drugs. Because they are afraid of the battering they will suffer from their abusers, they can’t protect themselves, including against HIV.

Women are known to be beaten, abandoned or murdered by their partners for revealing their HIV positive status, writes Tizzano. HIV is a health issue in the United States, particularly for young women and women of color, the CDC (Centers for Disease Control) reports. Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) are more likely to affect women than men with more severe consequences and complications.

“If you have been abused in the past, you may have turned to substances to hide your feelings of shame and guilt,” said Ford. “You have a right to be treated kindly and to be comfortable in a relationship and feel respected.”

The Sanctuary for Change curriculum lists the program’s aims:

To educate women with histories of trauma and emotional, physical and sexual abuse, and/or intimate-partner violence to identify barriers and safeguards.

To promote healthy sexual choices for women, so that they can experience safe and mutually respectful relationships.

To enable women to develop an individualized program of sexual health recovery.

Every woman needs to feel good about herself and her body. She should not be afraid to stand firm about what is best and safe for her. Sanctuary for Change helps women at risk to understand their rights. Women need to understand what a healthy sexual relationship involves and how to assert herself in her relationships. The program, piloted in Columbus, also explores myths and facts regarding sexual orientation, identifying common warning signs for sexually transmitted infections, common HIV-positive signs and symptoms, and the fact that STIs in women do not show symptoms, and recognizing ways in which trauma, recovery and addiction affect women when they are making choices that will impact their lives for the rest of their lives.

The program is being featured by The Ohio Department of Drug and Alcohol Services at its annual conference this month.

“Participants are not required to have a drug or alcohol addiction to participate in the program. Women who are in/or have been in a relationship with a partner who has been engaged in risky sex with others could also benefit from this program,” Ford said.

If you, or someone you know, can benefit from the Sanctuary for Change program, contact Family Recovery Center at 330-424-1468. The sessions begin 1-3 p.m., Thursday at Oxford House, 320 Benton Road, Salem.

Family Recovery Center promotes the well being of individuals, families and communities with education, prevention and treatment programs for substance abuse and related mental health issues. Contact us at 964 N. Market St., Lisbon; phone, 330-424-1468; or e-mail, Sanctuary for Change is funded by the Salem Community Foundation.