Wynn Wojcik lived with spousal abuse for years. She knew she'd leave for good someday -- it was just a matter of timing.
A bag, packed with important documents, a change of clothes and other essentials, waited in the neighbor's back yard.
At the time, Wojcik suffered alone in silence. Now, she knows there were other options.
"You can talk to someone and realize help is out there," she said.
In reverence of domestic violence victims, Time Out Shelter will observe a nationwide commemoration of Domestic Violence Awareness Month with a candlelight walk and vigil on Thursday, Oct. 12.
"It makes a powerful statement that domestic violence exists in this community," said Gerry Bailey, executive director of Time Out Shelter. "It pays respect to the people who have died and it brings attention to our services."
Candlelight walk, vigilWhen: 5:45 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 12.Where: Meet in front of town hallCall: (928) 472-8007
In 2005, Payson Police officers made 405 domestic violence arrests. According to the Violence Policy Center, a national watchdog agency, Arizona ranks seventh in the nation for the number of females murdered by males.
And, according to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, two out of three women who seek shelter in Arizona are turned away because of limited shelter space.
For those women, options are limited: Stay with family, return to the abusive situation or find safety elsewhere.
Wojcik fled several times. Without a place to stay, she escaped to the streets, and then to Payson. The Time Out Shelter, she said, saved her life.
"I couldn't have done it in Phoenix," she said. "I've never met people like the people up here. This community is for stopping the violence."
Domestic violence extends beyond spousal relationships. Battering affects children, siblings, parents and seniors.
The Centers for Disease Control said abuse falls into four general categories: Physical, sexual, emotional or psychological, and stalking. And usually, it gets worse, never better.
Intimate Partner Violence (IPV) happens between people in intimate relationships, including teenagers. It includes past and current, same sex and unmarried partners. Although it affects primarily women, a small percentage of men are victimized.
Bailey said not all abusive situations entail flight from the home, but all people involved in a violent situation should have a safety plan. The National Center for Victim Crimes made the following suggestions:
- Leave before the violence escalates
- Stay near exits
- Keep the car full of gas and unlocked
- Rehearse the plan with children
- Apprise someone close to you of the situation
When threats of violence, or physical and sexual assault occur, stick to your safety plan, and get out if possible.
And talk about it.
Bailey said discussing concerns with a battered loved one is OK. Since abuse is about control, many women involved in relationship feel trapped and afraid.
With the help of others, Wojcik has rebuilt a new life.
"I may get past it, but I'll never forget it," she said. "I want to be there for the next person who needs help."
Time Out Shelter is available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
The shelter can help a woman leave an abusive situation or provide advice to a loved one who suspects abuse. They offer counseling, and legal, medical and educational assistance among other resources. All calls are anonymous.
Time Out invites all community members to attend the candlelight walk and vigil Thursday, Oct. 12. Meet at 5:45 p.m. in front of town hall.
For more information or if you need help, contact the shelter at (928) 472-8007.
If violence is imminent, call 911.
Five things to tell a battered person:
- I'm concerned for your safety.
- I'm concerned for the safety of your children.
- The abuse will only get worse.
- There are resources in this community to help you.
- I can help you.