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Retreat offers holistic healing to victims of sexual abuse

The healing process is different for every person, as is the type of event that caused the need for healing in the first place. For women who have experienced sexual violence or abuse, simply talking about the event isn’t always enough.

Bella Center founder Kathy Seger has developed a holistic healing program she hopes to share with victims of sexual violence or abuse during a workshop later this month at Mount Olivet Retreat Center.

The Bella Center offers holistic, creative retreats for women who have experienced sexual violence or abuse. Based out of Owatonna, it is a newer organization, co-vice chairman David Witzig said. It received its 501(C)(3) status about a year ago, and has been working to serve victims of sexual trauma since.

“We believe it’s a really good program, especially with all of the news about violence and abuse being front page stories lately,” Witzig said. “This is one of the things going on in the world that is trying to help.”

Seger is a former registered nurse, and has always been an artist at heart. She also has people in her life who were victimized, and recognized that sometimes, simply talking about things isn’t enough when it comes to the healing process.

Sometimes, she said, survivors of sexual violence or abuse can find some inner peace by putting their energy into creating something artistically, or by doing gentle yoga, or journaling. Little by little, she developed the Bella Center concept of a holistic healing process.

“Artists do what they do because they love it. It gives them a sense of satisfaction. There’s a lot of research out there that suggests expressive therapy is a good way to approach people who need a boost,” Seger said. “It could be through art therapy, creative writing, gentle yoga and so on. These are provided to give survivors a higher sense of wellness. It’s not for the immediate aftermath, but later, while someone is still needing some healing in their life.”

The retreat is just for women, Seger said, and due to the intimate nature of the retreat, she’s only accepting 10 participants this time. Located in Eureka Township, Mount Olivet Retreat Center is a quiet and natural setting.

Seger meets with the clients one-to-one basis they arrive. While there is a schedule in place, which includes the creative arts, yoga and creative writing pieces as well as five meals and a two-nights stay, women who register are not required to participate in an activity if they are not comfortable.

“It’s really about unplugging for a weekend and really taking time for themselves,” Witzig said. “We think we’re on to a great program, and we want to roll it out as much as we can.”

The cost is $240 per person, with 100 percent of the proceeds going to pay for the retreat itself. The Bella Center is run by volunteers who do not take a salary, Seger said.

The Bella Retreat at Mount Olivet will take place Nov. 21-23. For information, visit BellaCenter. org, or call 612-460-1828.

Michelle Leonard

Michelle Leonard joined the Woodbury Bulletin staff in November, 2014, after 14 years covering news for the Bulletin's sister publication, the Farmington Rosemount Independent Town Pages.  Michelle earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Mass Communications: News-Editorial from Mankato State University in 1991. She is an active member of the American Legion Auxiliary Clifford Larson Unit 189 of Farmington, and served as the 2014-15 Third District President to the American Legion Auxiliary Department of Minnesota. Michelle is also the volunteer coordinator for the Minnesota Newspaper Museum which is open annually during the Minnesota State Fair. She has earned Minnesota Newspaper Association awards in Investigative Reporting, Local News Coverage, Feature Photography and Column Writing. 

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