Land Where Women Heal
AMEN is a holistic residential rehabilitation center surrounded by nature, providing communal healing for women suffering Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) from sexual violence.
Women will receive evidence based, trauma informed professional care from psychiatrists and psychotherapists integrated with holistic healing modalities like Yoga and craft-work.
Land Where Women Heal is not a building but a village. Long term embrace by community and connection to nature are integral parts of the healing. It is a holistic center which will also include a social business— spa, cafe and Gynecosophia (Gynecology) school.
This revolutionary pilot model is meant to spread and be copied worldwide.
In our first year we will care for 12-20 women. Each woman will receive individualized care and healing, and will stay in the village for 6-12 months.
Gender-based violence is a widespread social problem that cuts across sectors and cultures. One in three women experiences sexual assault and one of six is subjected to prolonged sexual abuse in childhood. The distress of the injured women is expressed in a variety of behavioral forms and symptoms, which may also lead to the development of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and complex PTSD (Herman, 1994). This disorder involves a variety of severe and dangerous symptoms such as self-harm, suicidality, drug and alcohol dependence, criminality and prostitution (Gur, 2008).
Women who are survivors of sexual trauma often must deal with severe and complex emotional ramifications across various aspects of their lives, on the road to rehabilitation and healing. Many of them suffer long-term harms, which undermine their ability for healthy functioning and sometimes endanger their lives.
These women's tragedy is doubled and tripled when institutions of education, of welfare and of mental health fail to identify their trauma in a timely fashion, and instead even label their behavior or actually treat them in ways that recreates the trauma and produces additional traumas – rather than offering healing. For many years they do not receive an appropriate rehabilitative and care response, and thus their capacity to trust professional caregivers is eroded and their problems are exacerbated. This is a vicious cycle inducing despair and leaving these women, who are in any event severely injured, without faith either in themselves or in the prospects for changing their lives.
In Israel there is no comprehensive service for women injured by sexual assault. Women who have experienced sexual assault and developed post-traumatic symptoms are scatted among various service agencies and providers, which in most instances address their care to the symptoms rather than to the sexual trauma itself. Even though there are centers specializing in the treatment of sexual trauma, these operate at full capacity with a waiting time of between one and two years.
LWWH Operation and
Our goal is to establish a village for care and rehabilitation, offering care focused upon and specializing in treatment of women suffering trauma in the wake of sexual violence. We plan to provide a broad and long-term response guided by a feminist, holistic approach. Under this approach, it is necessary to provide each woman anew with a sense of exclusive control over her life and the tools for finding within herself the wisdom and strengths for holding on in times of crisis. Care in this place will be based upon total trust in the resident – both in her narrative of injury and in her capacity to recuperate and heal. The care will provide response to the specific needs induced by sexual trauma.
Side by side with the rehabilitation program, the village will also serve as a base for the School of Gynecosophy and Women's Holistic Healing and of a community clinic and childbirth center; and as a location where women can conduct rituals related to femininity (such as bat-mitzvah ceremonies, rituals for menarche, birth circles, bridal immersion, etc), aimed at providing a positive and healing space for the female body. The residents will thus be exposed to the joy of the female body and to the life rituals deriving from it. Thereby renewing their connection to their own bodies within a supportive circle of women. These activities will also furnish economic support for the village's existence and help finance the space for care and rehabilitation. The public spaces will exist adjacent to the private spaces of the residents but separate from them, enabling the residents to choose between participation in the feminine celebration and retaining their privacy.
The care provided in this place will respond to the particular needs induced by sexual trauma. In the context of a fixed daily schedule which shall include a variety of treatment options in both group and individual settings, the resident will be able to retain high function to the extent of her capacity (such as completing academic assignments or theses and retaining relationships with family and friends). At night, when emotional phenomena of diassociative nature as well as suicidal thought tend to emerge, the residents will be accompanied by a trained team of counselors. The place will also have the infrastructure required to support women during a dissociative outbreak while protecting them from self-harm. Top priority will be given to preserving residents' physical and personal autonomy, so as to avoid traumatic re-creation of the injurious act.
This framework will begin with a pilot model, with the intention to progress toward providing a diverse range of response for a broad population of women. The overall purpose is first, to create a space that is both physically and emotionally safe from recurring injury (re-victimization) and second, to create a model of a familial-communal supportive structure that offers the basis for the work of caring and healing. This model will eventually be able to inspire the establishment of similar places in Israel and worldwide.
Our vision for securing the funds for establishing the Land for Women's Wisdom and Healing is by means of an international campaign across countries and continents. This place does not currently exist, but together we can make land where women heal a reality