You are not alone

Domestic Violence Awareness Month

 

 

“Do people still see me as wounded?” Misty Chaviers wondered aloud.

That question struck a chord. When I look at Misty, Jamie, and La Sena, I don’t see wounded. I see strong, brave, resilient women. It takes an enormous amount of courage to escape.

Misty left with the clothes on her back.She knew she had to get out and she knew she had one chance to get away. Her husband kept her driver’s license and wallet hidden. She had no car.She fell to her knees in her tiny trailer bathroom crying out to God for help.

She made it to her neighbors who agreed to help her get to her grandmother. Before they could get out, her husband knocked at the door. They hid her in a tiny closet. Again she prayed and prayed and prayed as she heard him yell and beat on doors throughout the trailer, the voice getting louder as he approached the closet. Just before he reached the closet, the neighbor convinced him that Misty had run out the back door. He took off and they quickly got Misty into the car and sped away.

La Sena (left), Misty (center), and Jamie (right) are survivors of domestic violence. They all encourage victims to seek help.

La Sena (left), Misty (center), and Jamie (right) are survivors of domestic violence. They all encourage victims to seek help.

She was just 19 years old. She never went back.

“It is so hard to leave,” she said. “You’ve been tortured. You’ve been told you are worthless. You’ve been told that no one will ever love you.

“And you are scared. You don’t know where to go. You don’t feel like anyone will believe you. You feel alone.”

Domestic violence remains one of the most misunderstood crimes in our country. It knows no race, social boundary, class distinction, or age. One in three women and one in four men will suffer from domestic violence.

But, you are not alone. There are many different organizations and with domestic violence advocates like Misty out there to help women get the help they need to not just survive, but thrive.

“A safety plan is what is most important,” Misty said. “You can’t just usually get up and leave. Most victims don’t work, most women don’t have transportation, most women don’t have their own money.”

Locally, the YWCA provides services to those affected by domestic violence. Last week the Central Alabama YWCA opened a satellite office in Oneonta. The YWCA has a 24-hour crisis line where callers are given information on how to plan for the safety of themselves and their children, assess for danger and lethality, and connect to community services and resources. The number is 205-322-4878 or 1-800-650-6522.

They operate a shelter as well. The confidential emergency shelter for women and children fleeing abusive homes provides a safe place where victims receive individualized counseling, planning, legal assistance, children’s services, and other resources.

While significant progress has been made in reducing domestic violence and improving services and support for survivors, Misty, Jamie, and La Sena all agree that there is still work to be done to expand prevention efforts and provide greater access to safety and healing.

One thing we can do as family, friends, neighbors, and humans is reach out a helping hand instead of judging. Show compassion and stand with them. Let’s honor the courage and resilience of these survivors and commit to standing with them for their safety, dignity, and justice.

“I once was wounded,” Misty said. “But that’s not me anymore. I’m not still there. I’m here now. I am strong. I am resilient. I am human.”

If you need help, please reach out to someone… anyone. Call 205-322-8303 for the YWCA in Blount County. Call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 or the state line at 1-800- 650-6522. You can call Misty Chaviers at 205-955- 6723.

Know that you are not alone.