Apeiron: Supporting trauma victims through the YWCA

Being your best self: Junior Human Services major, Rheagan Hageman, supports women who have experienced verbal, physical and emotional abuse. She interned at the YWCA Center for Safety and Empowerment last summer and fall semester.

The YWCA Center for Safety and Empowerment provides community support through emergency housing for those experiencing a form of victimization. 

“I want to show these women just how strong they are,” said junior human services major, Rheagan Hageman. “They’ve faced adversity in their lives, and I know they have the potential to become something so much more than what they’ve experienced before coming to us.”

The YWCA does provide a 24/7 hotline for those who may be in a dangerous situation. Shelter intake is a non-stop service that is provided for those who are seeking a safe environment.

“Holidays, weekends, it doesn’t matter what time of day it is,” said Hageman. “If someone is facing an abusive circumstance, then we want to provide that safe shelter for them in the community because they may not have anywhere else to go.”

Heavy emotions and past stories are oftentimes shared with staff members. Hageman reflects on when individuals are most likely to disclose such information.

“When you’re doing laundry with them or you’re going out and taking care of errands, that’s when you get to know them,” said Hageman. “It’s in those moments when they share their story, and that’s my favorite part… seeing them overcome their past and focus on their future as a powerful woman is extremely emotional.”

During a summer/fall internship, Hageman realized that building a sense of community in the YWCA Center for Safety and Empowerment is essential to creating an environment for positive disclosure and growth.

“No abusive situation is the same,” said Hageman. “Everyone comes in with their own story. The bottom line is that these women had their power and integrity taken away from them. It’s my job to help them so they can find those things all over again… it’s not a quick and easy process as it does take time.”

Hageman states that time and a healthy support system are the key ingredients for those looking to improve their lives.

“There has to be a sense of ‘we’re in this together,’” said Hageman. “Once they all feel like the can connect… that’s when progress is made.”

“We also offer case management services and counseling services,” said Hageman. “These are done during normal business hours, but we are always alert when it comes to intake services.”

Everyone faces adversity at some point of their lives, and this occurs at different levels. Through the YWCA, Hageman empowers women who have faced trauma and hardships to grow and become the best version of themselves.