Domestic Violence Victims Have Options

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Mary was three months pregnant the first time Roger physically hurt her.

They were arguing.

"He slammed me down on to the toilet which scared the crap out of me," said Mary.

He didn't physically abuse Mary again until after their son was born, so she told herself everything would be all right.

Battering is a pattern of behavior used to establish power and control over another person through fear and intimidation, often including threats and the use of violence.

After they moved into their own home, Mary's husband started hitting her in the one place her bruises wouldn't show.

"My head used to hurt, just to brush my hair, to wash my hair, it hurt just to touch it. He hit me with the remote control. It was a pretty regular occurrence ... I knew at that point that you don't fight back because that just made it worse," said Mary.

If you are still in an abusive relationship part of safety planning is thinking of a safe place to go when an argument occurs.

Mary can't recall much about the night she broke free with her child and just the clothes on her back.

She sat in her van, the baby in his car seat between the bucket seats, trying to muster up courage to leave.

Then her husband came home from the bar. He climbed in the passenger side of the vehicle and leaned across the baby to get at Mary.

"The triggering thing for me," Mary said, "was when he almost hurt David for a second time. That's when I was like, light bulb, what are you doing? Because it's very true that they take all your sense of self away. You're nobody. He was the boss."

Only one person knew of Mary's abusive situation: a girlfriend, who was going through the same thing.

When Mary finally left she spent the night with this friend.

Mary was fortunate. She was able to get back her sense of self with the help of her family. More than two decades later Mary is a strong, confident career woman with a loving husband who adopted her son.

Services available

Crisis intervention services in our community are provided by the Time Out Shelter and Rim Guidance Center.

"Confidentiality is a primary objective in our work. (It is the law.) We want clients to know that they can trust us with their information," said Victim Advocate Liaison for Time Out, Norma Runion.

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Norma Runion, Victim Advocate Liaison for Time Out

Runion is bilingual. She works with people who, while coming out of an abusive situation, don't need the housing services of the shelter.

In many instances the abuser has gone to jail so there is no immediate threat for the woman's safety. Runion helps the victims in getting a restraining order. Time Out also assists victims with legal advocacy issues.

Most of the time the abuser is the sole financial support for the family. If they are gone then the women immediately need resources to pay the bills and bring food to the table -- this is another area in which Runion helps, connecting the abuse victims with other resources in the area.

Runion truly appreciates the support she gets for her work, especially in the medical community.

Runion might get a call from a woman requesting help. She will go to the residence, make certain it is safe, then knock on the door.

"Sometimes the women deny their identity when we are face to face, and then a few months later I will get another call on my cell phone from the same woman who has found the nerve she didn't have before to break free.

"I help them with relocation and transportation to other states. The Chaplaincy at (Sky Harbor Airport) provides plane or bus tickets for the women to relocate for safety. Many times the women go to another shelter because of difficulties of safety in town," said Runion.

Runion can be contacted on her cell phone at (928) 978-9500 or at toshelt@cybertrails.com

From victim to victor

Wynn, the current administrative assistant at Time Out Shelter, was homeless and contemplating suicide when a friend helped her relocate to the Rim country. At the time she was emotionally and physically incapable of doing anything.

Time Out put Wynn in touch with all the right resources and helped her get back on her feet.

"It was through all their groups and the wonderful women that work here. This is my miracle house. I would be dead today if it were not for this house," said Wynn, a former mortgage broker.

"You would not be aware looking at me now that I have fractures in my neck and seven in my spine. I had my teeth knocked out," said Wynn.

She described the man who beat her as a charmer with an anti-social personality.

He killed her pets and left her once with 18 visible injuries and bruises. He received six class A felonies against him, including attempted murder and assault with a deadly weapon.

Wynn's abuse occurred in Maricopa County. Through plea bargaining her abuser was convicted of driving on a suspended license. He served 18 months of a three-year prison term.

"Because it was not a violence conviction I cannot find out where he is. I still look over my shoulder," Wynn said, adding that she has forgiven her abuser. "It was something I needed to do for myself."

A battered woman doesn't fit any particular profile. The only real risk factor is being born female. According the pamphlet, "Every Home a Safe Home," more than 50 percent of all women will experience physical violence in an intimate relationship.

"[Payson] went from 368 cases in 2003 to 404 last year. We were down the first quarter of last year and I was encouraged that the community was making progress," said Payson Police commander, Don Engler.

Engler said that almost all battering cases involve substance abuse.

Domestic violence is a community problem that crosses all barriers.

If you need to contact the Time Out shelter the Crisis line is (928) 472-8007 and the business line is (928) 468-8635. They can help you obtain housing, childcare, educational arrangements for children, financial assistance, housing referrals, legal advocacy, medical information and services, referrals for counseling and vocational training.

Rim Guidance Center is also available to help at (928) 474-3303.

The barriers to leaving an abusive situation generally fall into three categories

  • Lack of resources: Dependent children, lack of employment, no solely owned property, lack of access to cash.
  • Institutional responses: Some clergy and secular counselors are often trained to see only the goal of "saving" the marriage rather than stopping the violence. Police may treat the violence as a domestic dispute instead of a crime. Probation or a fine is a more common than imposing the maximum sentence on convicted abusers. Restraining orders do not physically prevent the abuser from returning and repeating the assault.
  • Traditional ideology: Many women become isolated from friends and family either by a possessive abuser or because they feel ashamed. Many women are taught that their identities are contingent upon getting and keeping a man. The abuser rarely beats the woman all the time.

Classes provided by Time Out

  • Parenting
  • Domestic Violence Awareness Group
  • Life skills
  • Rebuilding after domestic violence
  • Group and one-on-one sessions for teens and preteens

Important documents to take when you leave

  • Social Security cards
  • Birth certificates
  • Marriage license
  • Pet licenses
  • Proof of vaccinations
  • Leases or deeds
  • Your checkbook, charge card and bank statements
  • Insurance policies
  • Proof of income for you and your partner
  • Any documentation of past abuse

These will help you apply for assistance or take legal action.

Domestic violence facts

According to FBI reports, 30 percent of all female murder victims in the United States were slain by their husband or boyfriend in 1996.

Time Out has a couple dozen residents and some 60 people in their non-residential programs.

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