October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month.
Domestic violence was already an epidemic before COVID-19, but the health crisis has caused a tremendous spike in incidents of abuse. Even as lockdown restrictions are lifted, it remains a critical time for survivors, and greater awareness, education, and bystander intervention are desperately needed.
“#MeToo” is a movement against sexual harassment and sexual assault. Its purpose is to empower women through empathy and strength in numbers, especially young and vulnerable women, by demonstrating how many women have survived sexual assault and harassment.
The Mental Health Association in Chautauqua County (MHA) has a #MeToo Support Group that meets Mondays at 5:30 p.m. at Door 14 in the rear of the Gateway Center, 31 Water Street in Jamestown. It welcomes women who have survived sexual abuse, assault and rape.
The group is facilitated by three MHA staff members, all of whom are certified peer specialists and Narcan trainers: OPEN Work Program Staffer Tasha McFaul, OD Response Team Leader Allison Murphy, and CFO Jenny Rowe.
Rowe said, “Allison, Tasha and I have all experienced sexual abuse of some kind, and we all know how important it is to have a safe space where we can be respected and supported. Each of us has overcome trauma and resulting substance use disorder. We didn’t do it alone, and we are here to help other women in their journey. If you or someone you know has been affected by this, please join us.”
As with all the more than three dozen groups and classes that meet regularly at the MHA, there is no charge for participating in the #MeToo Support Group.
Wearing face coverings and safe distancing are part of all in-person experiences at the MHA.
The Mental Health Association is a peer recovery center offering support groups and individual coaching for people looking to improve their lives, deepen wellness, thrive in recovery or support those on a recovery path. Peers use their personal stories to help people find recovery in their own lives in their own way.
All Mental Health Association services are free. For the most current information on group meetings, visit MHAChautauqua.org/groups.
The MHA also offers services at Grace Lutheran Church, 601 Eagle Street, Dunkirk, N.Y., Monday and Tuesday 10 a.m. – 3 p.m. and Friday 10 a.m. – 2 p.m.
Anyone with questions or in need of services for themselves or a family member can call or text (716) 661-9044 from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday-Friday and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturdays.
To obtain free Narcan, a nasal spray medication that can save the life of someone who is experiencing an opioid overdose, call or text (716)
661-9044 with your contact information.
To be notified of upcoming events and changes to MHA programming, visit MHAChautauqua.org/list.
To learn more about the Mental Health Association, visit MHAChautauqua.org or facebook.com/MHAChautauqua.