DeKalb Community Service Board’s Jail Services Programs (JSP’s) offer a variety of services for individuals arrested and/or convicted of alcohol or drug offenses, domestic violence and other offenses that may warrant a mental health or substance abuse evaluation. The program offers a women’s group that focuses on issues such as domestic violence, relationships, anger management, family issues, addictions, grief and low risk choices.
“The women in our program are involved in the criminal justice system for a variety of reasons. Through the women’s group, they learn how to build relationships with one another in an atmosphere that encourages honesty, non-judgment and the freedom to be yourself,” said Beth Upshaw, Director of JSP. “We look at choices and what they liked to do before life took a hold of them. Each woman is encouraged to develop a passion project based on their interests.”
“Before coming to the women’s group, I was a brokenhearted girl searching for acceptance,” recalled Sade. Sade grew up in the foster care system and suffered from neglect and abuse. She was lonely, frustrated, depressed and under a lot of stress throughout her childhood. At age 17, she met her parents for the first time, but that did not mend her broken heart. Graduating from high school with good grades her senior year was her biggest accomplishment but that was quickly overshadowed by sorrow. At age 18, Sade was pregnant and put out of her house. She felt alone, had thoughts of suicide and started using drugs.
When a domestic violence situation brought Sade to the women’s group, she didn’t think anyone cared and could not benefit from the program. The group members helped her to finally open up by creating an environment where Sade could feel safe and accepted without guilt. She has worked on how to speak up for herself instead of holding her feelings inside and how to remove herself from negative people. Sade’s priority is her child and her passion is fashion. Recently, she was hired at a local salon and sees a ray of hope in her future.
“The program has helped me to always keep the faith,” said Sade. “I am learning how to be myself and believe that I am a strong young woman and that things will get better.”
Brenda became a mother at age 15. After so many years of devoting her life to her children, Brenda was tired and knew that she needed to start doing more to care for herself. But she had a difficult time saying no to her grown children’s continual requests. Finally, a conflict arose and she was charged with simple battery in a family altercation.
Through the women’s group, her peers helped her to face the resentment she felt inside from 28 years of always being there for her family who did not take her seriously when she set limits.
“The program has helped me tremendously,” said Brenda who is happily reunited with her family. “It made me a better person. I learned how to say no without feeling guilty, and now I don’t have a problem saying no and meaning no. It also helped me control my drinking.”
Kendra’s life was in a downward spiral largely due to alcohol and drug abuse. After receiving a charge of battery, she came to the program.
“I found myself blaming everybody else for the situations that were taking place in my life. Thankfully, my life has been a total turnaround. I am so thankful for my women’s group,” said Kendra. “The program has helped me to love myself and know that my life is worth more than self destruction. It has helped me to stay on a positive track and stay focused on growth in the right direction.”