The Naturalized Habitat Network of Essex County& Windsor

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Reclaiming the Sacred
       “Reclaiming the Sacred” is the latest program to be developed as part of our Healing Gardens Program. Like its original predecessor, “Reclaiming the Sacred” will be offered as an adult evening course that will provide instruction on the planning and design of healing gardens. However, this new version will differ in that it has been developed for one specific demographic: survivors of sexual abuse.

       This new program was developed on the suggestion of a sexual abuse survivor, as well as from conversations from front line community workers who assist them. When we first investigated this particular need, we observed a few things…

1. The struggles and challenges faced by survivors of sexual abuse are different from the experiences of other people. At the same time, although each survivor is unique, they often face similar challenges.

2. Survivors were less likely than others to take part in general class discussions or even come to a class at all. For some, this may be out of concern for a court-ordered publication ban on their name. More often, it is simply because of the social stigma of sexual abuse. For these and other reasons, survivors often feel obligated to conceal this aspect of themselves and become further isolated.

3. The healing journey for survivors of sexual abuse is seldom straight forward. Although there are community resources to address their immediate physical and emotional needs, these survivors may require years to feel appreciably healed, if not a lifetime. There is no “one size fits all” solution in terms of their healing and most will benefit from a variety of experiences.

4. There are presently no garden-related programs for survivors of sexual abuse in Windsor-Essex, nor anywhere else in our region.

       From these initial observations, we recognized a need to create a curriculum that would address the specific challenges of sexual abuse survivors, while offering them a safe, confidential venue in which they could feel free to be themselves without the risk of judgement or rejection. From this premise, the “Reclaiming the Sacred” program was created.

       This community initiative has been developed in consultation with social workers, as well as a survivor of sexual abuse. This curriculum avoids all of the gimmicks and guru-style approaches of some self-proclaimed garden therapy programs and is based on sound information relating to adult survivors, as well as proven design principles.

       After months of preparation, we are preparing to launch a pilot course, which will take place in Windsor. This will be offered as an adult evening course, beginning on Tuesday, October 4.

       We are presently seeking 12 survivors to take part in this first-time course. Participation in this course is free and participants can receive subsidies toward the purchase of plant materials and landscape supplies. In order to qualify for this course, all applicants must be:

  • Survivors of sexual abuse.
  • At least 18 years old.

  • Residents of Windsor and Essex County.

  • Willing to respect the confidentiality of others in the class.

  • Willing to commit to the class and complete a course survey.

       In order to glean the most information from this pilot course, we hope to select people of different ages and backgrounds, representing the spectrum of sexual abuse and assault. With only 12 spots available, those who are not selected for this first course can take heart in knowing that we plan to offer more classes in 2017.

       Registrations for this course will be accepted throughout the month of September and all adult survivors are encouraged to apply. Privacy of all applicants is guaranteed. Furthermore, no one is required to disclose the complete details of their abuse. Participants can also opt to not use their first name in class.

      To register or learn more about this course, call Dan at 519-259-2407.