Letter to the Editor/Community:
BATAVIA - After years of enduring physical and verbal abuse, Shari finally left in search of peace and safety.
It was a challenge to change her entire lifestyle - her residence, neighborhood, work, friendships - but she persevered toward personal recovery.
After a stay in our safe house and assistance from domestic violence case managers, Shari found a new job, home and hopeful future. For the first time in years, she was able to sleep through the night without fear that her abuser would try to hurt her. That was until he tracked her down, came to her new place and threatened her and her child. The abuser's anger and level of intimidation shook Shari to her very core and left her in a heap of tears. She then had to make a decision: take a chance and stay put or uproot her life once again and move to somewhere new.
Her name has been changed, but this is a real example of how domestic violence often doesn't just end because a victim leaves the situation. In fact, did you know that the most dangerous time in a domestic violence victim's life is when he or she leaves the abuser? This kind of abuse is not about love; it's about control. Control over another person's words, actions, clothing, whereabouts, relationships...control over that person's life.
YWCA of Genesee County is the sole provider of domestic violence services in Genesee County. We served more than 700 new victims last year and so far in 2017 we have worked with hundreds more victims and provided nearly 4,900 services. October was Domestic Violence Awareness Month and, in addition to hosting some fundraising events, our staff served 29 new victims, advocating for their welfare and helping them to file Orders of Protection, find safe housing, create safety plans, attend court and obtain clothing and other personal items for them and their children.
Our Care+Crisis Helpline staff took 217 domestic violence-related calls in October alone, including one from Shari.
This work is made possible, in part, thanks to all of the many people, companies and organizations that contributed to our Stiletto & Sneaker 5K, Harvest Supper, Kickstands Up road trip and Disco for Domestic Violence Awareness party.
Their donations of money, goods and time allow us to focus on what's truly important: providing victims like Shari with opportunities to find a better, happier and healthier way of life. She is choosing to continue on her road to freedom from abuse and is standing tall as a survivor. And for that, we are eternally grateful.
This is a heartfelt thank-you to all whose contributions will help our goal to end domestic violence and replace it with healthy relationships. Everyone can play a role in creating a more peaceful community, and we appreciate your being part of the effort.
Joanne Beck Assistant Executive Director YWCA of Genesee County