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Sanctuary and A Restful Peace of Mind: A Recipe for Self-Care

The Center has enjoyed generous support from many wonderful people. Our community members give their time, talent, and treasure to support our cause and the survivors we see. And it’s not uncommon for a volunteer to be so excited about making a difference that after contributing in one capacity, they come up with their own ideas to do even more – for which we are extremely grateful. One such instance led to the creation of self-care kits for survivors.

Christene Tashjian and Amy Eller have served as support group facilitators for our Healing with Nature support group since its inception in 2007. This group uses horticultural therapy (HT) techniques to encourage reflection and healing. Participants arrange flowers, prune plants, build terrariums, make their own aromatherapy products, and more. Each HT activity corresponds to a topic covered in most support groups.

After presenting at a conference about this group, Christene developed an idea to support survivors at the start of their healing path. She thought many items they make and use in their support group – often months or years after trauma – would also be helpful to women immediately after an assault. Thus the concept for a Self-Care Kit was born. After the trauma of assault and the trauma of a rape kit[1] at the hospital, a Self-Care Kit can help set a survivor on the path toward healing.

Christene discussed the idea with others who joined the effort: Amy, her co-facilitator, and Beth Schultz, a colleague and former Center volunteer. With the Center’s blessing, these amazing volunteers got to work. They developed a list of items to include and gathered the items. Thanks to their hard work and support from generous donors, they created 75 Self-Care Kits, which is about the number of survivors that come to UNC Hospitals each year.

The kits include lotion, bath gel, facial toner, bath herbs, Sanctuary flower essence, Restful Peace of Mind plant extract, herbal tea, and a handmade glass heart. It also includes information about the products in English or Spanish. The kits will be distributed to survivors at UNC Hospitals along with a change of clothes and additional materials. The SANE[2] nurses at UNC shared very positive feedback about the kits, and we hope to hear the same from survivors.

We are so grateful to Christene for her leadership in transforming a great idea into a comforting reality. Many thanks to all the volunteers who worked on this project.

Special thanks to all our donors: Enfusia (TX), Green Hope Farms (NH), glass maker Dan Popish, herbalist Suki Roth, Trader Joe’s in Chapel Hill, and our anonymous financial donor.

[1] A rape kit is used during a forensic exam to collect and preserve physical evidence from a sexual assault, such as fibers, hairs, and bodily fluids. Many survivors find the exam to be traumatizing and invasive.

[2] A Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE) is a Registered Nurse who has received special training in providing comprehensive care to survivors of sexual violence. A SANE is able to conduct a forensic exam (i.e. a rape kit) and may provide expert testimony if a case goes to trial.

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