Dr. Kristie Williams, Silence, Grief, & A Space for Voice

Dr. Kristie Williams, Silence, Grief, & A Space for Voice

Dr. Kristie Williams is a Northwest Family Life affiliate therapist working from Alabama. She offers in person therapy as well as tele-counseling.


Would you tell us about A Space for Voice?


A Space for Voice – Healing the Wounds of Domestic Violence, is a series for women who are either survivors of domestic violence or were child witnesses. The purpose of this 6-week series is to provide a safe space and opportunity for individuals to identify any existing behavioral or relational patterns they feel continue to impact their way of being. Utilizing a community model of support to aid individuals in their healing process, specific steps include lessons on the following: 1) Understanding the Dynamics of Domestic Violence; 2) Uprooting the Lies of Domestic Violence; 3) Dismantling the False Foundation of Domestic Violence; 4) Silent No More; 5) Blaming vs. Reclaiming; and; 6) Arise and Grieve No More.


You’ve said that silence doesn’t dissolve anything. Talk to us about what silence allows.


In instances of domestic violence and abuse, silence can deaden or harden the heart of the survivor. The survivor may no longer trust themselves or allow themselves a space for relationship. They may become hyper-vigilant, fearing the possibility of ever having or maintaining safe connections.  Similar to what takes place when an infected wound is not allowed to heal properly, silence can deaden what was once full of life, or kill the hope of future possibility. Sharing one’s voice within a safe community can restore hope and life as well as provide a model for healthy relationships.


Talk to us about cultural competency.


Cultural competency is an intentional process of educating oneself regarding knowledge of various cultures.  However, to go beyond just developing knowledge means to seek understanding, which is an ongoing relational process. Therefore, being intentional about actively increasing cultural competence means being willing to recognize that a person’s culture is also influenced by various components of who they are (e.g., gender, religion, education, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, and other personal characteristics).  So cultural competence includes engaging own’s own self-awareness and being open to:

  • Multiple perspectives
  • Relationship building
  • Flexibility/adaptability
  • Cultural understanding
  • Intercultural communication


The power and control wheel is often used to talk about issues of domestic violence. You’ve mentioned also applying this wheel to issues of race and diversity. Can you expand on this?


If you examine the power and control wheel and think about it in terms of inequity and intolerance regarding issues of diversity and inclusion, you can see how the same spokes on the wheel are used for bullying purposes to shut out individuals based on their ethnicity, gender, religion, education, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, disabilities or other personal characteristics.


You also do a lot of work around grief and loss. Tell us about this work and the possibility, you believe can be found, even in the midst of grief.


Isolation from others is often a response to our grief and loss.  Yet finding a safe space to discuss and grieve loss is a vital part of the process.  One’s safe space can be found in the community of a group or with an individual. Either way, healing takes place in the disclosure of story.  Story sharing allows the face and voice of another to join in the recognition of loss and honoring that space. Also, the only way out is through.  To completely get to the other side of the process individuals must allow themselves to feel, experience and go through all their emotions to heal.


Tell us about your DV work with college students and young people.


As a trained facilitator of the Onelove Foundation, an organization that educates students on dating and domestic violence, I have offered a series of talks to faculty, staff and students on Dating Violence Awareness as a part of a Postdoctoral Fellowship with Ursuline College in Pepper Pike, Ohio.  The educational sessions offered included a brief film and guided discussion about issues and warning signs of dating and domestic violence. The film was made available for faculty and staff to view in preparation for students who also viewed the same film at a later date. The programs’ intent was to assist faculty and staff in identifying early warning signs of abuse and provide campuses resources in the event the movie triggers students to share their reactions in the following weeks.


You will be speaking at a conference soon on dating and DV warning signs. Can you share with us some of the most common warning signs?


The Power and Control Model describes 10 ways a person attempts to maintain power and control of another.  These abusive behaviors include physical, sexual or emotional abuse, isolation, minimizing, denying, blaming, using children, economic abuse, use of male privilege, coercion, threats, or intimidation.  Some specific examples may include, but are not limited to the following:


  1. Physical restraint or abuse by hitting, kicking or choking the person.
  2. Abusing, injuring, or threatening to injure children, family members, pets, or property.
  3. Rape or using sex in an exploitative fashion.
  4. Name calling, criticism, bullying or insults.
  5. Isolating the victim from friends and family members.
  6. Screening phone calls or checking emails, changing social media passwords.
  7. Stalking in person or on social media.
  8. Threats of suicide by the perpetrator.


Talk to us about bystander intervention when it comes to DV.

Research has shown that the more people who are there to witness a situation where someone needs help, the less likely it is that someone will actually intervene. As a result, a person’s feeling of responsibility is not as strong when that responsibility is shared by others. As a result, when one person intervenes it is more likely that others will step in and assist.  Bystander intervention training includes 3 Ds of intervention:

  1. Direct – You intervene directly; take action yourself
  2. Distract – You take action to divert attention from the situation
  3. Delegate – You enlist or appoint someone else to help in intervening


You’ve said you like to challenge people not to live under a rock. Can we hear more about this?


Often times when individuals are hurting or struggling with an issue, they isolate and fall back into an old pattern of thinking that tells us that we need to ‘pull ourselves up by our bootstraps’.  Yet the opposite is true, we heal in community. When we are hurting, helping care for another ensures we do not isolate or go to those dark places of depression. Therefore, I often challenge my clients to step out from under the rock.


Dr. Williams is working to create an online version of “A Space for Voice,” where people can connect and process together regardless of location. We look forward to sharing this with you when it launches.


Dr. Williams also offers tele counseling; you can connect with her here