Seven times: statistics say that’s how often a victim of domestic abuse will leave and return to their abuser. It’s hard to rebuild a life after abuse. Founded by Dr. Brooke Jones, Stronger than Espresso would like to help survivors reclaim what their abusers took away. As their mission states, with healing comes strength.
What was your initial vision behind Stronger than Espresso? What inspired you?
Stronger than Espresso was birthed out my own life experiences surviving domestic violence and other abusive relationships. In the journey of healing I recognized that when survivors of abuse have opportunities to be seen, heard and understood they are able to heal. As Founder and President of Stronger than Espresso, a non profit 501(c)3 agency, it is important that we create programs for survivors by survivors. Since 2013, Stronger has been helping survivors of domestic violence reclaim what abuse took away.
Domestic violence is a pandemic silently sweeping the United States and other countries worldwide. Its victims are growing in number, yet only a fraction of women are able to take the brave step toward escaping their abuse before it’s too late.
What’s the story behind the name?
The name Stronger than Espresso was birthed from a God-whisper in 2006. It was then I knew that I would begin a journey of a lifetime discovering what the name meant. I have learned that as we heal – we are stronger! The life cycle of a coffee bean begins off the tree, but it must go through a number of difficult processes to wash and dry and prepare it. Then it goes through the Fire – the roasting to be ready to be used. Then it must be ground, pulverized-even before it is even ready to be brewed to perfection! It is only after going through the difficult stages of the process, it is ready to be used to its fullness to bring great joy!
How has it grown since its launch?
The first draft of any Stronger program began in 2006; it took six more years to transform into a full program with comprehensive curriculum. In 2013 our first Stronger healing groups began, and later than year began equipping churches and organizations to facilitate healing groups in their area for domestic abuse survivors. Stronger grew in those first years locally, and internationally equipping and serving survivors as far away as India and Kenya as well.
We are focusing our efforts on growing local and launching our program nationally. It is easy for churches, organizations or individuals to be equipped to lead healing groups across the country.
Why does DFW need Stronger Than Espresso?
Stronger is a restorative program and uniquely focused on healing after violence and abuse. Often survivors need to find opportunities for healing, but they do not have access, benefits or need time before they are ready. Even if they turn to their faith community for help they may not find the specific support group that is designed for their needs as they heal from this trauma.
DFW and beyond needs Stronger than Espresso to help met the survivor where they are, in their community, in their neighborhood, in their church. It is an affordable and accessible solution that can bring healing due to the design of the healing groups and the curriculum. There is a wonderful healing that takes place when a person can be seen, heard and understood. Survivors of abuse are living all around us. It’s time that we give them a place they can heal.
What’s been the community’s response to it?
Initially, in 2013, it was challenging to get churches and others in the community to understand what we were trying to achieve. Survivors had lived in such shame and fear that they were not able to come forward. Over time we kept working to join collaborative councils, partner with other agencies, and provide healing groups in specific churches to bring access to the survivors.
After five years and a greater awareness to the need for trauma healing after violence and abuse, Stronger is growing this year.
I love your vision: reclaim what abuse took away. Can you tell me more about that?
Stronger than Espresso empowers survivors of domestic violence with practical tools to reclaim what abuse took away. The Stronger healing model equips leaders to facilitator restorative small groups, incorporates art to transform trauma, and provides professional development and training on trauma healing.
What’s something new Stronger Than Espresso brings to the table?
Stronger is a catalyst for life changing emotional healing and restoration and spiritual growth. Every Stronger session is written for survivors by survivors. This insight is an integral piece to the understanding a survivor’s journey from hurt to healing. We equip local facilitators to lead small groups so our ability to meet the needs of each community is endless.
What’s one wonderful story that has come out of your work?
Let me tell you an amazing story of a woman who not only found healing and freedom for her and her family, but she is now giving back to other survivors!
“I first heard about Stronger in 2016. Being a part of Stronger has definitely been valuable for several reasons, the top 3 being:
- I am no longer alone. Fortunately, I share a common hurt with many women. For me, being around other survivors continues to enhance my healing.
- I had my “aha!” moment the second round of taking the course. A fellow survivor opened up and shared an unsettling, intimate detail of her pain. I too experienced it identically! I hadn’t shared it up until that point because I was ashamed. It was pure joy finally knowing it was not my fault. The mind and body are in sync but sometimes its hard to understand the disconnect. A deeper healing began once I realized this.
- I now have all the tools for ensuring that my next partner wouldn’t ever hurt me; emotionally, sexually, or physically. I will not ever be with a man who doesn’t cherish me and love me like Christ loves his church. My next love will adore everything about me and not ever feel threatened or be jealous of me. Thank you, Stronger, for empowering me with these tools.
Stronger has given me the foundation of healing and has empowered me that I have a life to live that doesn’t include abuse or judgment. Stronger has given me everything the abuse has taken away! Leaving was easy but rebuilding my life has been one of the hardest challenges I choose to conquer each day. No matter how hard it gets I will not ever go back. God has amazing plans for me, and for my children. I will continue to empower women by teaching them the red flags and reinforcing how valuable and beautiful each person is in the sight of God. ”
What’s one thing you wish more people knew about domestic violence?
It is rare that a person being abused will describe their relationship as abusive. I would say that from my work all around the world the most common phrase when someone is trying to describe their abusive relationship is, “I’m walking on eggshells…” If your friend describes their relationship with that phrase, proceed as if abuse is present, even if they are not yet ready to see it.
Five years down the road, what’s your hope for the survivors you help?
What gets me out of bed every morning is knowing there are so many survivors to help. We are striving to reach 1,000,000 in every community, every state, every nation helping other women impacted by violence. If it took you 5 minutes to read this article, we already have 100 new victims of domestic violence in the U.S. I pray for the day we can help them all. We know that women are not the only victims of abuse. Men call us often looking for solutions that can help. We are very compassionate to the men who are being abused in our communities and within our churches who cannot speak out. We will continue to find ways to help all survivors through a healing process.
We hope that survivors that come through the Stronger than Espresso program move beyond and flourish in their purpose and find freedom. We have already witnessed so many find success in their life once they have walked through the healing program. Through our small healing groups, art healing programs and practical tools and / or training, we hope to raise awareness and provide help on this issue.
While the last five years we have focused on restorative help, we are so excited to announce that we are currently developing Stronger Teens, a preventative program focusing on healthy relationships. Did you know that 1 in 3 teens have already experienced dating violence or abuse? The purpose of Stronger Teens is to help teens, their parents and those working with teens access practice information and tools to help teens navigate challenges they face building healthy relationships. This includes learning how to build resilience, setting healthy boundaries and conducting self awareness to help them manage emotions and deal with loss. We are so excited to bring Stronger Teens in both interactive workshops and in a comprehensive curriculum. It is rolling out Summer/Fall 2018.
Find out more about Stronger than Espresso at strongerthanespresso.com