East Tennessee Organization Works to Interrupt Cycles of Domestic Violence

Healing the Home aims to help break the cycle of violence. They say that instead of locking up the offender in jail, they help the whole family.

Knoxville, Tenn. – A Knoxville program hopes to intervene and interrupt the cycles of abuse that can trap families in situations of domestic violence. It’s called Heal the hearth.

“What I’m trying to do is heal the family, heal the home,” said Seema Singh, executive director of the program. “Being violent towards your partner has such a deep root, that’s what we’re trying to get to – the root of ‘Why are you behaving this way?'”

The program takes an educational and therapeutic approach, working directly with people who have been identified as being at high risk for interpersonal violence to help them change. Singh said there are times when they can also help victims escape from their attackers.

They run empowerment groups and run psychology classes. They also work in conjunction with a network of local resource providers who provide law enforcement, mental health resources, and addiction and trauma recovery services.

“If they want to stay there, I’m going to work with the whole family, with the abuser, with the victim — especially when relationships are a toxic dynamic,” Singh said.

A licensed counselor said part of the reason cycles of domestic violence continue is that people may not be able to talk and seek help.

“People are embarrassed. People don’t want to admit that family as seen on the outside isn’t the same on the inside,” said Colvin Idol, a licensed counselor. “Domestic violence is not just violence, there are all kinds of ways to control.”

He said sometimes people don’t even realize they’re in an abusive relationship. Abuse can be emotional, financial, verbal or sexual. It’s not always violent. Idol also stated that abusers can use children as weapons against a person to achieve desired ends.

“I want families to feel safe when they go home,” Singh said. “I remember being a kid and walking into the house not knowing what to expect.”

People can connect with Heal home online. They also work with YWCA Knoxville, which provides resources for victims. To reach them, people can call 865-523-6126.

Aubrey L. Morgan