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Strengths-Based Tools

We are big fans of narrative, mindfulness, and other approaches to promoting strength. On these pages you can find some exercises that we have found helpful. These are suitable for classroom settings or working with clients.
We have also included information on the VIGOR, the first strengths-based safety planning tool for survivors of domestic violence. You can also learn more about that in Dr. Hamby’s book, Battered Women’s Protective Strategies: Stronger Than You Know.

Narrative Exercises

We have many tools and handouts available for download and to use for free.

“I Am From” Poetry Exercise

Rewriting Your Present No Matter Your Past Exercise

Self-affirmation Narrative Exercise


What is the VIGOR?

The VIGOR is a new safety plan for people who have experienced domestic violence.  The VIGOR represents the first major innovation in safety planning in more than 20 years. The VIGOR leads to a personalized, strengths-based safety plan. The VIGOR allows for a detailed assessment of all risks, including concerns about children or other loved ones, financial issues, social issues, and personal values. The VIGOR gives victims the opportunity to also think about their strengths.  The focus on strengths is the part most women say they appreciate the most. Finally, the VIGOR helps women identify and choose options for coping with victimization. See the Frequently Asked Questions and other materials to learn about the VIGOR.

Research on The VIGOR

The VIGORis based on Multiple Criteria Decision Making, a well-known and well-validated method of dealing with complex problems of all types.

To date, the VIGOR has been piloted with two samples of domestic violence victims.  In the first study of 101 women, 74% of women reported the VIGOR was more helpful than past safety planning.  The VIGOR was revised based on their feedback.  In the second pilot study (98 women), more than 4 out of 5 victims (86%) found the VIGOR more helpful than other safety planning. Further, 9 out of 10 participants reported they thought the VIGOR would be helpful to most victims.

Quotes from Users of The VIGOR

“This was a great help to me just in writing these things down, ‘seeing’ it on paper aided me in recognizing my accomplishments and what I yet need to do!”

“Helped me see different options I may have.”

“This was a great help to me just in writing these things down, ‘seeing’ it on paper aided me in recognizing my accomplishments and what I yet need to do!”

“I liked thinking about my strengths.”

“I liked having to think and acknowledge my strengths and options—made me hopeful.”

We have many tools, handouts, and reports available to download for free.

The Book – Battered Women’s Protective Strategies

Detailed Table of Contents


The VIGOR Planning Tool

147 Protective Strategies for Safety Planning

Translations of The VIGOR