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Tuesday, October 27, 2020

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‘Break Up First Aid’ event offers tools to empower abuse victims


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The UH Wellness Center hosted “Break Up First Aid” in partnership with a nonprofit organization, her VOICE. | Dmitriy Borovykh/The Cougar

The Wellness Center last Thursday hosted “Break Up First Aid,” a workshop that opened a forum for education about intimate partner abuse, healthy relationships and dealing with breakups.

The event was held with assistance from the University of Houston Women and Gender Resource Center and her VOICE, a nonprofit dedicated to helping women who have suffered from domestic abuse.

Laura McGuire, UH Wellness’ sexual violence prevention and education program manager, opened the event by talking about healthy relationships and how to build and maintain them. She stressed the value of communication, openness and honesty as the foundations of a stable, fulfilling relationship.

“(Relationship issues) can be very stressful and affect someone being successful at college, and we don’t want those two things to happen,” McGuire said. “We want to make sure that they have the tools to get through the difficult times so they could still be successful.”

In the second part of the workshop, singer/songwriter Lisa Denae and Houston Police Department Sgt. Kathy Carey shared their personal experiences of being in abusive relationships. They also talked about what they do to help others who are suffering from one.

Both stressed the importance of having a support system outside of an intimate relationship so that there’s always help in the case the relationship becomes violent.

“Young women need to know that they have a voice and it deserves to be heard,” said Shana D. Lewis, founder of her VOICE. “There’s no need to be embarrassed, to feel ashamed about something. Say something.”

Lewis created her VOICE to help Houston-area women who suffer from domestic violence after she encountered many of them in her counseling practice.  Denae runs her own nonprofit, Cultivate Courage, which is dedicated to supporting survivors of domestic abuse, child abuse and sexual assault.

The event concluded with a discussion on how to deal with a breakup, which was presented by Devan Ford, director of the WGRC. Ford talked about the emotions people go through after a breakup and how to productively deal with them without falling into depression.

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