Sarah Nitz is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker in Athens, Georgia. Sarah works with people who have experienced intimate partner violence at Project Safe, Inc., a Athens non-profit. She has a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from Florida Gulf Coast University in Fort Myers, FL with a minor in Gender Studies. She then earned a Master’s of Social Work from the University of Georgia in Athens, GA.  Sarah has called Athens home now for almost 9 years and enjoys all the cities’ little gems. She enjoys spending time with her husband, their two cats and friends.

Navigating the reality of an abusive relationship, whether it’s your own relationship or one your close friend is in, can be one of the most difficult things to work through. Project Safe, Inc. is a local non-profit in Athens, Georgia that exists to help people who have experienced abuse in their relationships. All services at Project Safe are free and confidential. We are never going to speak with anyone about your situation without your permission. We consider it an honor that you share some or all of your story with us and we do everything we can to maintain your confidentiality.

Let me be clear, when I say intimate partner violence, domestic violence, or family violence, I am referring to physical, emotional, sexual violence as well as coercive control. Intimate partner violence encompasses all types of abuse, not only physical violence. So often, the survivors we work with at Project Safe say the emotional abuse is more difficult to heal from than the physical abuse. The reality is that this statement is true for a lot of people. For other people, it may be that the physical or sexual abuse was more difficult. The bottom line is that each person’s story is different and unique and their healing journey can look very different from someone else’s.

When most people think of domestic violence or abuse, they assume that the only services available for people who may need help are shelter and maybe assistance with a Temporary Protective Order. There are so many other services available to people who have experienced intimate partner violence. For people who don’t necessarily need confidential shelter, they could get connected with Outreach Services at Project Safe for assistance with any needs related to their situation such as advocacy, help finding safe and sustainable housing, safety planning, assistance filing a Temporary Protective Order (TPO), budgeting, resume building, support groups and even counseling. Our goal is to help empower our clients so that they can feel safe and independent.

The bottom line is that each person’s story is different and unique and their healing journey can look very different from someone else’s.

If you wanted to meet with an advocate about your situation and how Project Safe might be able to assist you, you can call our hotline which is 24/7 and confidential at 706.543.3331. Once you call, you can ask the hotline operator to schedule an appointment for you to meet with an outreach advocate. We also offer walk-in hours on Mondays from 1-4pm and Thursdays from 3-6pm if you would rather just come then! Once you arrive at our Outreach office, you’ll be greeted by one of the kindest people, Ms. Kathy, the receptionist. You’ll then meet with one of our advocates privately to discuss your specific situation and ways Project Safe may be able to assist you. We want to meet you wherever you are at on your journey and we want you to lead the way. That means, if you want to meet with someone and have an idea of the next steps you’d like to take, you can come in and meet with an advocate. If you find yourself unsure of what exactly you want to do, but are interested in coming in to talk about options, you can also come in and meet with one of our advocates. At the initial meeting with an advocate, you and your advocate can talk about what you want things to look like moving forward and more about specific ways Project Safe can help.

Maybe the whole time you’ve been reading this post, you are not thinking of yourself but a close friend or someone you know that could potentially be helped by meeting with an advocate. It can be so hard to watch someone you know and love be in an abusive situation and to figure out what your part is in helping them. When you are in an abusive relationship, having a support system can be one of the biggest game changers in getting out of that relationship. As a concerned friend, you can let your friend know you are worried about them. You can let them know about Project Safe and that we may be able to help. Sometimes people are nervous to call us so you could offer to sit with them when the call the hotline. Maybe you even offer to take them to their first appointment here to walk-in hours.

“Some things are far too heavy to ever be carried alone.”

Often times, when people find themselves in abusive or unhealthy relationships, they can feel so isolated and alone. But you are not alone in this. Women ages 16-24 experience the highest rates of intimate partner violence. In fact, 1 in 4 women experience domestic violence in their lifetime. Everyone deserves to feel safe in their relationships and in their homes. You deserve this too. Some things are far too heavy to ever be carried alone.

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