October is National Domestic Violence Awareness month, and during this year in particular, the perils and prevalence of domestic violence have become even more apparent. It wasn’t long into the COVID pandemic before statistics about the rise of domestic violence began to circulate. The rise was connected to the stressors of financial strain and job loss. The increased danger was attributed to stay-at-home orders and isolation. Women vulnerable to abuse were suddenly even more vulnerable.
After an argument about something trivial, F says her husband forced her to move into their garage. She wasn’t allowed to leave, he told her, not even for food. F tried to leave once, but her husband screamed and swore at her, making it clear his threats were not empty. After a few days, the situation blew over and F’s husband invited her back into the house. F wanted to believe everything would be ok, that the stressors of the pandemic were the only causes of her husband’s angry behaviors, but having grown up in abuse and having experienced abuse in a previous relationship, F recognized the patterns. They weren’t new, they were just escalating. F searched the internet for places where she could get help and found Hope Women’s Center. She packed a bag and some important papers, and when the next argument confirmed her suspicions that she was not safe at home, she left.
F was in tears when she got to Hope. She sat with a mentor and shared her story. “I just want to be safe. I want to know how to find healthy people and relationships. I think I have some healing to do.” The Center Manager made calls to some housing programs and after speaking with many places, an open spot was found for F. She took a Bible with her and says she’ll be back to take classes when she gets on her feet. We look forward to seeing F again and hearing about her progress.
Classes such as Safe People, Healthy Boundaries, Anger Management, Rise Above Abuse, and SELF: Tools for Overcoming Trauma help us educate women and teen girls on what abuse is and what love isn’t. We have support groups and mentoring for women who want to heal from past or present abuse. For women ready to leave an unsafe relationship, we have lists of resources we can call for shelter and other assistance. Hope is strong in the fight against domestic violence. We’re helping break cycles of abuse, one woman at a time.