Breakout Sessions

Click the speakers name below to view their biography.

  1. Pastoral Care

    • Rev. Nicholas Hopkins (M. Div), Shawnee Park CRC

      Important things to know when providing pastoral care to victims and abusers. Every year people affected by domestic abuse seek help from clergy more than any other helping professional. Faith leaders can change lives by providing spiritual after-care for abuse survivors and a space for those in need of spiritual connectedness. Whether survivors need direction, advice, or just a community to care for them, faith communities can be that safe place.Faith leaders and our communities can provide a source of support that no other sector of society can provide. Learn what you can do to provide a safe space for survivors, to be present when someone discloses, and how foster a culture of inclusivity for the survivors of abuse.


  2. Partnering to Build Recovery Resources in Your Faith Organization

    • Wibke Rees Executive Director, Celebrate Recovery Ministry, Central Wesleyan Church

      The Topic: Partnering to build recovery resources in your faith organization.
      Focus: Survivors may be struggling with various addictions or other life challenges beyond abuse. How to support survivors by partnering to create recovery resources like Celebrate Recovery within your faith organization.

      Two Learning Outcomes:

      1. Addictions or life-controlling habits play a major contributing factor in domestic violence and abuse. Learn how dealing with addictive behavior is a prerequisite not only to ending the cycle of abuse but also to helping the abused who frequently develop addictive behavior to medicate their pain.
      2. Crucial to recovery from life controlling habits that can lead to abuse is an extensive network of prepared and committed people. Learn how establishing a transformational recovery ministry demands building a team committed to plugging break-downs in care coverage.


  3. Children and Trauma

    • Darcy Komejan MA, Executive Director, Childrens Advocacy Center
    • Shyra Williams, LMSW, ACTP, Program Director, Children's Advocacy Center

      The Children’s Advocacy Center (CAC) of Holland exists to provide resources and treatment for the entire family when navigating the complex dynamic of child sexual abuse Their multidisciplinary team provides intervention and assessment in an environment that is child sensitive, supportive, and safe. Our faith leaders and concerned community members of West Michigan will learn the following by attending this breakout session:

      1. Learn about the CAC prevention program, Darkness to Light
      2. Discuss how to implement this program in your faith community
      3. Understand the five steps to protecting children in our community .


  4. Keeping our Teens Safe

    • Danielle Lucksted, MA, Prevention and Education Program Manager at Safe Haven Ministries, a comprehensive domestic violence organization in Grand Rapids
    • Claire Kaczanowski, Senior student at Caledonia High School and a member of Kent County Young Leaders Against Violence group.

      Learn how teens experience domestic violence, how to effectively start conversations with teens around TDV, and sharing effective models of prevention.


  5. Collegiate Co-advocacy

    • Ashley Schulte VAWA Grant Coordinator & Victim Advocate Women’s Center, Grand Valley State University
    • Sara Bazydlo, LMSW, Victim Advocate & Prevention Educator, Hope College

      College students are coming together to support victims of sexual assault on campus. Women are the vast majority of victims. Nearly 1 in 5 have been sexually assaulted while in college, and young people are especially at risk. Half of the survivors were raped before they were 18. Students have organized themselves to provide support for victim to reduce the stress and re-traumatization that occurs from having to contact campus security, talk with law enforcement, and face humiliation in the courtroom. Using this model for peer support and advocacy within higher ed, learn how can this be applied to the church?


  6. Care for Those Who Care for Those: Trauma Stewardship and Compassion Fatigue

    • Bob VandePol, Executive Director, Pine Rest Christian Mental Health Services

      Those supporting and guiding domestic abuse survivors are exposed to high stress and awful stories. The resultant “occupational hazards” can be severely impactful and tragedies can beget the additional tragedy of compassion fatigue. This workshop will address the impact of traumatic stress upon people, suggest effective engagement and boundary-setting, and propose resilience strategies for bouncing back from this level of stress. Your work is a marathon; not a sprint. We need you for the long haul.


  7. Human Dignity, Domestic Violence and Faith

    • Sarah Prout Rennie, J.D., is the Michigan Coalition to End Domestic and Sexual Violence (MCEDSV) Interim Assistant Director and Policy Attorney
    • Christopher Rennie, MLIS, is a librarian & information professional for one of the world’s largest creators of educational & research databases.

      Ways in which faith leaders can support survivors through a strength based approach.


  8. Coercive Control: Power, Control & Manipulation

    • Holly Seymour, MS, Program Director, Center for Women in Transition

      Domestic violence isn’t always physical. Bruises may fade and injuries may heal but what about the aftermath of emotional abuse? This workshop will cover the types of abuse in intimate partner relationships that are the most insidious and often, the most difficult to recognize. Participants will learn to identify the characteristics and warning signs of coercive control in intimate partner relationships.


  9. Understanding, Equality, and Justice: Interfaith as a Bridge to Community.

    • Dr. Douglas Kindschi, Ph.D is now in his 41st year at Grand Valley State University
    • Kyle Kooyers is a Program Manager for the Kaufman Interfaith Institute of Grand Valley State University

      This break-out session will explore the ways in which Interfaith engagement fosters a healthier community, where everyone is understood and treated equally, as well as practical ways of beginning interpersonal connections and understanding across religious divides. Though an examination of the Six Points of Interfaith Engagement, this session will answer questions like Why is Interfaith important? Where do we begin with engaging other faith traditions? What are some tools? How can I get involved? As a result of this session, attendees will receive a framework for interfaith work as a means of joining with their neighbors to foster understanding and justice.


  10. Empowering/Training First Responders

    • Rebecca McDonald, President and Founder, Women at Risk

      How we initially respond to domestic violence can have a significant impact on a survivors' safety and path toward healing. We can help build capacity so that people those who respond to domestic violence interact with survivors with skill, care, and compassion. Learn about one successful model, as well as key components, challenges, and opportunities that communities should consider in effectively training first responders.


  11. Silence Hides Violence, The Church has been Silent for Too Long

    • Rev. Nancy Boelens

      Explore the devastating consequences of family abuse and God's call to faith communities. Abuse tears apart families and, if not properly handled, can cause Christians to question their faith. What is the role of the church?


  12. Exploring the Roots of Domestic & Sexual Violence

    • Lesley Coghill, Center for Women in Transition

      Exploring the Roots of Domestic & Sexual Violence will provide participants with a shared understanding of the contributing factors that perpetuate domestic and sexual violence. Our learning will include video and interactive small group discussion of how to address and prevent these root factors and contributing norms. Participants will gain ideas for how to contribute positively to creating safe and respectful environments that reduce and prevent abuse from occurring.

      Learning Objectives:

      • Gain understanding of the underlying root factors that contribute to domestic & sexual violence.
      • Identify four key norms that perpetuate domestic & sexual violence.
      • Consider how to create safe, supportive, and respectful environments to prevent abuse from occurring.


  13. Healing Psychological Injury

    • Cindy Westcott, BA, BS, LCSW,

      Often the mind and body are unable to successfully 'move through' the middle and end stages of the grieving process due to a chronic neurobiolgical state of shock or 'frozenness.' This ongoing state of chronic shock may also be conceptualized as being locked in an ongoing and circular state of endless grief or PTSD. This breakout will look at how clincians, loved ones, and communities can create optimizing environments which support and facilitate grief work and healing, with specific focus on EMDR as a tool for facilitating the grief stage processing necessary for trauma recovery.


  14. Batterer Support

    • Mat Klemp directs the Batterer Intervention Program at the YWCA of Grand Rapids

      Batterer intervention programs are considered by many to be an important part of a comprehensive approach to domestic violence, and many courts order offenders to attend these programs while on probation for a domestic violence offense. The goal of these intervention programs is to teach abusive partners to develop empathy for their victims, identify and self-monitor negative thoughts, and to identify and interrupt the negative self-talk that often precedes incidences of violence, in order to prevent further abuse.

      Studies have shown that domestic violence perpetrators are often more likely to cease abusive behavior when members of the community combine efforts to protect victims and hold those who batter responsible for their actions. This strategy is incorporated into most batterer intervention programs, and it works first by developing and sharing a common understanding of domestic violence and then by targeting and changing those social norms that allow for continued domestic violence. Members of the community, such as law enforcement officers, health care providers, clergy, and the media, coordinate to create a system that protects victims right away and provides them with services as needed. Participants in this intervention work with the criminal justice system not only to protect victims but also to change the ideas and attitudes that may help contribute to domestic violence in the community. Research has found that when individuals who batter their partners are held accountable by the community, they may be more likely to change their behavior.


  15. Supporting a Friend/Family Member who is Experiencing Abuse

    • Ruth Schoff LLMSW; Family Advocate of Safe Haven Ministries

      How to provide emotional/physical support (whether they are staying or leaving); help in creating short term safety planning (for you and victim/survivor); creating healthy boundaries; under why someone might stay in an abusive situation.


  16. Human Trafficking in America and What we Can do to Stop It

    • Nita Belles, Managing Director - In Our Backyard

      In recent years, Americans have woken up to the reality that human trafficking is not just something that happens in other countries. But what most still do not understand is that neither is it something that just happens to "other people" such as runaways or the disenfranchised. The human trafficker is no respecter of faith, education, or socioeconomic status, and even kids who are raised in solid families in middle and upper class suburbs can fall victim. Likewise, labor trafficking happens in our cities, neighborhoods, and rural areas.

      Anti-trafficking expert Nita Belles will discuss the link between domestic violence and sex trafficking, She helps concerned parents, friends, teachers, law enforcement, government officials, and other leaders understand all forms of trafficking, identify risk factors, and take practical steps to keep their loved ones and neighbors safe from predators.


  17. Bystander Intervention

    • Theresa Rowland, Title IX Coordinator & Equity Officer/Director, GVSU
    • Tara Aday, MPA, Program Director, Safe Haven Ministries

      How to stop violence before it begins; understanding effective ways to intervene when violence is taking place.