Improving the Lives of Domestic Abuse Victims

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Local Lady1Ruth Sternaman

Counselor at the Women’s Center of Greater Lansing

Photo BY Erika Hodges

Ruth Sternaman knows that in order to end domestic abuse and sexual assault issues, it has to be stopped at its source. As a counselor at the Women’s Center of Greater Lansing, she works hard every day to do just that.

“If we can nip it in the bud, we can stop domestic violence and sexual assault from moving from one generation to the next,” said Sternaman.

The Women’s Center of Greater Lansing has been providing excellent counseling services and helping women realize their potential since 2005. Sternaman, who has worked at the Women’s Center since 2010, knows the importance and interworking of counseling more than anyone.

Equipped with associate’s, bachelor’s and master’s degrees in counseling from Lansing Community College and Siena Heights University, more than 20 years of experience working in social services, running her own nonprofit in Traverse City and currently working on a doctorate degree from Walden University, you could say that Ruth is one educated, experienced and trustworthy person to talk to, however, her personal experience in her specialized areas is what makes her such a trustworthy counselor.

“I was sexually abused as a child,” said Sternaman. “After growing up and going through two abusive marriages, I got counseling and therapy for myself. Knowing how much it helped me, I became interested in helping other people.”

Talking to a counselor has proven to be beneficial for all types of situations and people. According to Lindsay Holmes, healthy living editor at the Huffington Post, “research has shown that verbalizing feelings can have a significant therapeutic effect on the brain.”

Although many people find it intimidating and scary, the act of talking out your feelings, to a third party listener is extremely beneficial for a person’s mental health and self-esteem; exactly what the Women’s Center aims to do.

While Sternaman knows that her career is important and feels it is rewarding, it can be a heavy burden to bear. She said that much of the time, she has to remember to leave her work at work.

“Some days are really tough,” said Sternaman. “Some days I go home and I take it with me, but most of the time I can leave it here.”

After doing so much of her important work, Sternaman noted that she enjoys some of her hobbies such as doing beadwork (she is part Ojibwa Native American), eating the occasional Milky Way bar and spending time with her three surviving children, nine grandchildren and 13 great grandchildren.

“I love the Women’s Center,” said Sternaman. “It serves such an important place in this community.” Aside from counseling services, The Women’s Center also provides services to help women get back on their feet and into society as well, like computer skills classes, a clothes closet for work clothes for women, and job counseling and support.

“We’re so detached from some of the trauma that we live every day and it’s important to address it.”


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Megan Martin

Megan Martin is a Communications Specialist at M3 group and a graduate of Calvin College in Grand Rapids. She is a foodie, a lover of art and tea and everything outdoorsy.