Living Ubuntu

Trauma Recovery for Domestic Violence

Orange County for Darfur

Living Ubuntu has recently completed a three year project at the Human Options Emergency Shelter for victims of domestic violence in Orange County, CA.

Trauma recovery for shelter clients was addressed in a group setting once a week.  The group included an educational aspect so the women could begin to make sense of their struggles and symptoms, and begin to see them as normal responses to a traumatic event.  They also learned a body method, Trauma Releasing Exercises (TRE)

While helping women return to a calmer, relaxed state, TRE supports self-empowerment by allowing women to be in control of the pace of the exercises. Trauma can lead to feeling disconnected from one’s self.  This method helps women re-connect to their own bodies and increases awareness of their inner sensations and feelings.  This was clearly indicated in the ample feedback we got during the course of the project. 


Unrecovered trauma has been associated with an increased risk of

  • violent behavior
  • learning disabilities
  • relational difficulties
  • substance abuse, and
  • a long list of other painful, troubling symptoms.

Increasing awareness and recovery in populations exposed to violence plays an essential role in interrupting the cycles that contribute to the growing epidemic of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

The children

Having a parent with Post Traumatic Stress leaves the next generation at risk.  This is true even for children who never had a direct experience of trauma or abuse.  Being witness to violence, or being carried in the womb of a woman with PTSD both put children at risk. For infants whose primary caregiver suffers from unrecovered trauma, the risk of Disorganized Attachment is increased. In these scenarios children are left vulnerable to developing mental health difficulties later in life, including increased risk of developing PTSD.

Despite this transgenerational aspect of unrecovered trauma, most women who wind up in a domestic violence emergency shelter have never heard of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Yet, the vast majority of these women suffer from many of its symptoms. Unable to sleep well, calm down, or focus their attention, they need help in understanding the toll trauma has taken on their lives, including the impact on their children. They also need guidance in how to begin the path of healing and recovery.

Our approach

This program sought to address trauma recovery on several levels. In addition to offering education on trauma and a body method to help them feel calmer, the group environment offered safety, support, acceptance, and encouragement to go at their own pace with healing. For many of the women, it was this combination that allowed them to begin revealing aspects of their abuse they had previously felt too ashamed and overwhelmed by to put into words. Women opened up to confide details of the violent, humiliating horrors they had endured.

In finding their own timing, they were able to speak of long held secrets without being re-traumatized in the telling of their stories. They also began to see the telltale signs of trauma in the behavior of the children and recognize they needed healing too.

The trauma recovery group was led by Barbara English, LMFT who is also the co-founder of Living Ubuntu. 


Here is some feedback from the women after attending the group and learning TRE:

"I can’t believe my nightmares finally stopped."

"That was the first time I slept through the night."

"This is the first thing that made my panic attacks stop."

"For the first time in a really long time, I feel calm."

"When I look around the room, colors are brighter."

"I feel like I get to have my body back."

"It got easier to be patient with my children."

"My headache went away."


If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us.  Or call us at (714) 979-2544.

Trauma Recovery for Domestic Violence

a project of

Living Ubuntu

The inner development of compassion, caring and sensitivity to the pain of humanity emerges as a result of recovering from one’s own painful experiences of life.
– David Berceli