Our Story for Gateway Domestic Violence Center

Friday, March 30, 2012

Transitional Housing

The Gateway Domestic Violence Center has launched its capital campaign to raise 1 million dollars to build additional transitional housing.  They, with the support of their awesome community, are already nearly half way to their goal!  I am very honored, along with my mother, to serve as the co chair person for this campaign.  But just in case you are wondering what the heck is transitional housing, let me explain:

OK, let's talk about Gateway Domestic Violence Center, first.  They are an organization that has been serving battered women for over 25 years.  They are an emergency shelter, plus more.  Last year, they served over 1000 women and her children.  There is NEVER an empty bed.  Typically, a woman and her children will stay in the emergency shelter for 30 days.

While they are there, many things are offered, such as: life classes, group therapy, personal mentorship, and many other things such as art classes and occupational therapy.  There are classes for teenagers and children.  There is legal support as well.  Even a battered woman who is not in need of the emergency shelter, can take part of the classes and group sessions.  It is there to support any woman and her children who are experiencing domestic violence.  They also run a 24 hour hot line.

After 30 days in the shelter, the woman and her children may go to live in one of the transitional housing apartments.  The location of the apartments and of the shelter are secret, in order to keep everything secure.  Everything is heavily guarded and monitored.  A woman typically lives in these apartments for 6 months while she gets back on her feet.  The environment is supportive and she has accessibility to all the services Gateway offers.  Her housing costs are taken care of so she can save money in order to rebuild her life and start over.

Can you even imagine what it must feel like to have finally left your abuser, only to realize that you don't have enough money to make it on your own, so you must go back?  This scenario does not just happen to the poor.  Economic abuse happens to women of all economical statuses.  This is the number one reason a woman will go back to her abuser.  If your partner has control over all your money, and everything is in his name, do you think you can pull about $3000.00 out of a hat and go put deposits on an apartment and utilities?  Believe me, you can't.  And $3,000.00 is for bare minimum living. 

Transitional housing gives women dignity!  It is empowering for a battered woman to find a job, and be able to sock her own hard earned money away until she saves enough for her OWN place!  It is wonderful if she can do this while living somewhere where she does not have to worry about her safety, in a loving, encouraging environment.  If our society wants to see an end to domestic violence, this is what it looks like.  We need more transitional housing.  We have to make ways for women like me to start over.

If you would like to donate to this campaign, please visit www.gatewaydvcenter.org and you may donate securely on line, or mail a check to the address provided.  It's all about the power of We!  We can make a difference.  You can donate $5.00, $500.00, or $500,000 dollars.  Whatever you are able to give, it will become part of someone's miracle.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Dear Battered Wife,

It's time to tell someone.  Reach out and share what you are going through. Tell a friend, a family member, a counselor, or a volunteer on the other end of a hot line.  Just get it out.

You may be scared of what will happen if you tell your secret.  I'll tell you what's really scary: waiting too long to get help.

Telling someone your secret doesn't mean you have to rush right out the door and leave your partner.  It may not be the right time to leave.  Actually, there is no "right time."  But just sharing your burden with someone who cares will lessen your burden.  It will help you unload some of the weight you've been struggling to carry around. 

There are people who care about you who are willing to help you make a safety plan.  If you don't know who to call, start with the national hot line found at the bottom of this page.  Or, you can leave this website and google Domestic Violence Centers or Battered Women Shelters in your area.  Call them.  Just open your mouth and let the words flow.  No one will judge you.  They will be honored to help you.

The first person I told was a complete stranger.  Miracles began unfolding after I opened my heart and spilled my secrets.  My boss already knew I was in trouble and I got fired from my job as a teacher because my ex husband was stalking me and had left bruises on my neck from where he choked me.  But I just couldn't say the words that I was in trouble and needed help.

The stranger I told ended up helping me rescue myself which took 18 long months to do.  But I did it.  And I am grateful I chose to tell someone.

I know you are doing the best you can.  Lessen your burdens today by telling someone.  Admitting you need help is the first step to being the best you can be.

The National Domestic Violence Hot Line
1 800 799 SAFE (7233)
Lines are open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week

If you have been blessed to live a life without violence, please support your local Women's Shelter.  In these hard economic times, these nonprofit organizations need your help.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Be kind to yourself

Battered Wives have something in common.  We are all multi taskers.  We juggle a lot.  It takes enormous effort to keep everything looking normal to outsiders.  We tip toe on egg shells trying to avoid our partners.  One false move and we're going to get it.  It is exhausting. 

Is this how you feel today?  Are you exhausted? 

I want you to do just one act of kindness for yourself.  It can be going to the library find a great book to read.  It can be a bubble bath.  It can be painting your nails.  It can be going for a walk.  It doesn't matter what the activity is, just do it for yourself.  One thing every day.  It doesn't have to take long.  If all you have is five minutes a day for yourself, that's OK.  You make those five minutes count.  It's just for you and it's your little secret.

We lose who we are when we are living the nightmare of domestic violence.  I know I lost myself and it took years to find myself again.  I was so used to being told what to do and when to do it that I lost the inner voice that used to tell me what my dreams and goals are.

By doing a simple little thing for yourself every day will help save you from becoming totally lost. Use those minutes to clear your mind.  Try not to think about what's bothering you.  Just let it go for a little while.  Be still and listen out for your own inner voice.  She has so much to tell you.

I know you are doing the best you can.  I am praying for you.

Love, Abigail

Sunday, July 10, 2011


"Things won't always be this bad."

If you had told me this 17 years ago, I wouldn't have believed you.  While I was living the nightmare, it felt like everything was going to be difficult and sad forever.  I didn't see how it could ever end unless I was dead.

I had just had a baby and my ex husband had just discovered Crystal Meth.  He was using every night to stay awake working a night shift and coming home in the foulest mood you've ever seen.  It didn't matter what I said or did, it was wrong.  When he wasn't high off that nasty stuff, he was drinking excessively.  He was violent, very violent.  I wanted out but he put a loaded shot gun to my head and made it clear that he would blow my head off if I ever left him.

Is this where you are right now?  Do you want to leave but it is too dangerous?  Reach out for help.  Just talk to someone.  There is hope.  It's not easy, but miracles are waiting for you.  Your life doesn't always have to be the way it is right now.  Don't stop believing that this too shall pass. 

Maybe he has taken away your power.  Maybe he has robbed you of your security.  Maybe he has damaged your faith.  Maybe he has smashed your self esteem.  BUT DO NOT LET HIM TAKE AWAY YOUR HOPE!  That is yours, and he cannot have it.

The National Domestic Violence Hot Line
1 800 799 SAFE (7233)
Lines are open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week

If you have been blessed to live a life without violence, please support your local Women's Shelter.  In these hard economic times, these nonprofit organizations need your help.

Thursday, June 30, 2011


Are other family members of a battered wife victims too?  Think for a moment about what it would be like if your grown daughter was being abused.  What if you knew her relationship was dysfunctional but every time you encouraged her to leave him, she would tell you a hundred reasons why she can't?  Do you think you could just send out some Domestic Violence rescue squad to bring her back home where you could keep her safe?

Parents of Domestic Violence victims are powerless.  No matter how much you love your child, your love cannot save them.  That's a very hard pill to swallow.  And speaking of pills, let me just link something up in your mind here.  Domestic Violence is very similar to addiction. 

You can liken it to having a daughter whom you tried to "raise right."  You tried to be the best mom you could be.  You warned her of the dangers of drugs.  You gave her rules to follow.  You showered her with affection her whole childhood.  You sacrificed so much in order to give her opportunities.  You focused on her dreams more than your own.  Sure, you made some mistakes, but what parent is perfect?  You tried to raise your daughter to be successful.

But we all know that no matter what great parenting techniques you may have had, that some times things don't go as we hoped they would.  Some times our children are led astray by outside forces that are out of our control.  Maybe your daughter went to a party and decided to try some heroine.  She's smart.  Everyone is doing it.  It's no big deal.

This is what it feels like to fall in love.  It's exciting.  It's new.  It's not like an abuser knocks your teeth out on the first date.  It's wonderful at first.  And you really have no sure way of knowing if the guy you are falling in love with is an abuser or not.

As the drug wears off, she wants more.  But she feels like she's got it all under control.

Just like your daughter might want more of her boyfriend.  He is intoxicating.  She feels like she's got the relationship all under control.  She may have seen a red flag by now, but she's ignoring it.  He may have shown her how jealous he is but she tells herself it is no big deal.

So, she goes out to get some more heroine.  Just a little bit.  It will be the last time, she tells herself.  It still feels really good.  And things seem to be under control for a little while longer until a few months later she is doing it every day.  She will do anything do get her fix. She will lie, cheat and steal if she has to.  And it is no longer fun.  It doesn't feel good.  Over the course of the next few years her body becomes very damaged.  She doesn't even seem like the same person. 

You would do anything to rescue your daughter from this, wouldn't you?  You work a second job just to pay for her rehab.  She does better for a while, but then has a relapse and becomes worse than ever before.  You try to keep her at home all the time, but she runs away.  And by then, she is an adult and it's not like you can lock her in her room.  The police won't go get her for you.  You beg her to stop using but she can't. 

It doesn't matter how much you care for your daughter, she cannot break the addiction until SHE hits the bottom and has a spiritual awakening that makes HER decide for herself that she wants to get help. And even then, she cannot quit on her own.  It takes a miracle and the daily help and support of a 12 step program.

This is not the same, but it is similar to the scenario of your daughter falling in love with an abuser.  At first, she doesn't know he is an abuser.  Then she sees the red flags.  And in time, she becomes trapped just like an addict.  It's not that she craves being abused, but it is similar to the feeling of being trapped and not being about to get out just because someone says you should.  If you were scared you'd be stalked, harassed, or even killed if you left, would it be easy?  What if you had children together and he used them to manipulate you?

In both scenarios, the daughter's parents are powerless.  Domestic Violence can happen to anyone.  It happens to daughters who are very loved.  It happens to daughters who are smart.  It happens to daughters who were "raised right." 

Parents, it's not your fault.  You did not cause your daughter to be a victim of Domestic Violence.  Admitting you are powerless over your daughter's abusive relationship will be your first step to hope.  Stop blaming yourself.  Stop denying it is happening.  Educate yourself about Domestic Violence and get help.

The National Domestic Violence Hot Line
1 800 799 SAFE (7233)
Lines are open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week

Thursday, June 23, 2011

You get what you deserve?

How often was I told everything was my fault?  I heard it all the time.  In fact, I had heard it so much that I believed it.  I truly believed I was a horrible person who deserved to be punished.  He certainly made that clear.  I was also told over and over that I was really stupid.  I think a lot of folks think victims of domestic violence are stupid. 

"If she was smart, she wouldn't be with him in the first place." 

"If she was smart, she would have left the first time he hit her." 

And he would say, "If you were smart, you wouldn't have pissed me off." 

"If you wouldn't have talked on the phone to your sister for so long, I wouldn't have yelled at you." 

"If you weren't such a slow driver, I wouldn't have lost my cool." 

"If you would have done what I said when I said it, we wouldn't have a problem, now would we?"

Even when I asked his dad for help, he told me I had to sleep in the bed I had made.

A lot of people think that abuse is a choice.  It's not.  No one chooses to be abused. 

Sure, I take respsonsibility for myself.  I have made a lot of mistakes.  I own them.  I have spent 13 years trying to forgive myself of my mistakes.  But I NEVER deserved to be abused.  And neither do you.

Battered women are some of the smartest people I know.  We know how to survive.  We know how to manage and run a household while everything around us is falling apart.  We know how to raise our children to be successful and loving human beings despite our dysfunctional home life.  Battered women are fiercly protective of their children and we have beautiful mothering skills. 

We stay and go back for a lot of reasons but stupidity is not one of them.  The hell we live through is not what God intended for us and we didn't ask for it, we didn't want it, and we didn't deserve it.

You aren't stupid.  You are not a bad person.  You don't deserve to be abused.  It is not your fault.  There is hope.  There is a way out.

The National Domestic Violence Hot Line
1 800 799 SAFE (7233)
Lines are open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week

*Please support your local domestic violence center*

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Economic Abuse

Yesterday I had the wonderful opportunity to hear a seminar by Allison Smith, a member of the Georgia Coalition Against Domestic Violence.  The topic was economic abuse.  Does that sound like a weird topic?  Economic abuse? 

I had never heard the term economic abuse before but by golly I assure you I lived through it.

Do you ever wonder why a woman stays with a man who hurts her?  Why doesn't she just get out and leave?

What if her partner had all control over their finances?  Let's think for just a minute here.  Imagine yourself in a victim's shoes.  What if your name was not on anything you owned?  What if you didn't have access to any cash?  What if your partner, in his effort to have complete control over you, had taken away all your power to support yourself?  Do you think it would be easy to just get in your car and go to a hotel?  Even if you went to stay in a women's shelter, what about your future?  Do you think it is easy to get a job that pays enough to support you and your children?  What if your credit is totally ruined?  What if your partner has sabotaged your ability to take out a loan or have a credit card?  How much would it take to start fresh with nothing?  It takes a lot.

A lot of victims are unable to keep jobs.  Victims of domestic violence miss work frequently.  Would you come to work with a black eye?  Would you be productive if you were living a total nightmare and were broken down emotionally?  What if your partner called you all the time at work, harassing you?  Would your boss be happy with that?  And if you didn't answer the calls or respond to the texts, you would really get it when you got home.  What if you had bad marks on your employment record because of all this and no one wanted to hire you?

What if you didn't have any money?  Would you feel trapped?  If you left but couldn't make it on your own and had no family to help you, would you go back?  This is why most women go back.  They couldn't make it on their own.  And guess who is willing to take her back?  Her abuser.  Sometimes with promises things will be different. 

AND a lot of women are scared her children will be taken away.  Believe me, living in a box on the street is better than living with a man who is violent, but DFACS certainly cannot allow children to be homeless and the poor mother will lose her kids.  I know I would do anything to keep my children.  I would even go back to being abused.  Can you understand this?  Can you stop blaming women who go back?  It's for many reasons but being stupid is not one of them.

Economic abuse is when a person seeks to control and have power over his partner by stripping away her ability to support herself.  He wants her to be totally dependent on him for her basic needs.  In a healthy marriage, a woman can depend on her husband's salary, but they both share values and goals concerning money and no matter who earns the biggest paycheck, they mutually agree they are equal partners and share the money in a cooperative manner.  This is a touchy subject even for people in good relationships.  Money problems are in the top 3 reasons for divorce.

If you are in an abusive relationship, it is vital that you start saving money for yourself.  There are many creative ways to do this.  You need to establish an emergency fund and hide it.  I used to find money in the washing machine because my ex husband frequently left cash in his pocket.  Any cash I found, I hid in a tea kettle tucked away in a kitchen cabinet that we never used.  In a short amount of time, I had collected almost $70.00.  That's not a lot of money, but it can put gas in a car.  It can by diapers and ramen noodles.  Sometimes he would ask, "Did you take my money?  I had five dollars in my pocket yesterday."

It is not good to lie, but if you are in an abusive relationship, I hear by give you permission to lie.  I used to say things like, "Hmm, let me help you look."  I would look around the house like I was trying to find it for him.  Just as if you are in the process of making a safety plan to leave, there are certain things you SHOULD NOT tell your abuser.  It is dangerous and so you must protect yourself.

There are many other things you need to do to protect yourself financially.  Go to:  http://gcadv.org/how-to-stop-domestic-financial-abuse/  to learn more.  It is really important information.

A solution for the future: Talk to your children about this.  Tell your sons and your daughters.  Everyone needs to have marketable skill and a way to support themselves.  Period.  Economic abuse can happen to anyone.

I know you are doing the best you can.  I believe in you.