Bound for courage
Survivors of violence invited to Outward Bound course
Steamboat Springs — Heather, who was a victim of domestic violence, was scared to go to Outward Bound. She didn’t want to disappoint anyone in case she still wasn’t ready to sign divorce papers upon her return.
“I had thought going into Outward Bound that it would give me the immediate courage to change my life, and I would come home and file for divorce and start a new life for myself, and that didn’t happen,” Heather said. “I ended up giving myself permission to think things through and do things on my own time.”
Heather attended the Outward Bound Survivors of Violence — Steamboat course through Advocates Against Battering and Abuse while she was in an abusive marriage. She suffered emotional and physical abuse and threats to her child and pets. Her husband eventually tried to kill her.
She still uses the skills and experiences she acquired at Outward Bound in 1994.
“I remember the obstacle course, and there were some times when you just had to go out on a rope,” Heather said. “I still recall that experience when I’m facing challenges today — sometimes taking that first step is the hardest.”
Diane Moore, executive director of Advocates, began taking survivors of violence to Outward Bound to provide them fun and challenging opportunities for empowerment.
“Individuals sometimes think they need to be in good physical shape to go to Outward Bound,” Moore said. “But Outward Bound is really about taking emotional risks and learning to trust yourself and others from the activities through the three days.”
Over the years, Moore has taken nine groups of women to Outward Bound. Those women were survivors of every kind of trauma, including child abuse, emotional abuse, incest and domestic and sexual violence. Participants do not have to be clients of Advocates to participate in the program, and all participants will qualify for full or partial scholarships . The cost of the course is $582, but participants generally pay between $5 and $50 out of pocket.
“I pretty much always give money to people who need it because I have plenty of money to give to Diane’s group,” said Meg Ryan, assistant program director for Outward Bound.
This year’s Outward Bound course is Sept. 29 to Oct. 1 in Leadville. The course was established in 1984 as part of Outward Bound’s Survivors of Violence Recovery Program, in which the organization contracts with local agencies to design courses that meet their specific needs.
Activities in the course include problem solving and trust building initiatives, rock climbing, rappelling, orienteering and a ropes course. The activities are designed to help individuals address the issues of self-confidence, trust, support and community.
Lori, who went to Outward Bound three years ago, found that the camaraderie she developed with other women who suffered from abuse gave her courage.
“Helping them start healing gives you strength in healing yourself, too,” Lori said. “What I learned there and the skills they give you take you over the edge of building back your self confidence and is one more step to healing.”
Lori was in a relationship that was very controlling.
“My thoughts and feelings were never allowed,” Lori said. “I was told that they were wrong, and I finally withdrew into myself because I was not worth sharing with anyone.”
At Outward Bound, she was able to open up and allow herself to feel vulnerable.
“In regards to life skills, it gives you confidence into trusting people again and putting down your guard and sharing your feelings,” Lori said. “I felt like I grew a lot, and it helped me get through the stages when you get out of some trauma or domestic violence situation.”
“It’s fascinating to see not only the group as a whole, but individuals evolve in terms of how they feel about themselves and the new excitement about their own goals and future,” Moore said.
Applications are available at the Advocates’ office and must be received by Sept. 10. Call 879-2034 for more information.
To reach Allison Plean, call 871-4204 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
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