Ana Wilson is no stranger to telling her story of abuse.
After suffering for three years at the hands of her abusive husband, on Feb. 8, 2007 Wilson made a plan with the help of the Time Out Domestic Violence Shelter and got out.
Now Wilson shares her story with other women struggling to make a new life for themselves and their children.
Where others are too scared to speak or are still getting their footing in a world free of mistreatment, Wilson stands proud as a survivor.
Without the Time Out Shelter, however, Wilson admits she doesn’t know where she would be today.
Unfortunately, the Rim Country’s only shelter for battered women had to adapt to a 25 percent cut in their funding last year all while their service levels rose 42 percent.
On Tuesday, a panel of lawmakers and town officials toured the shelter while administrators pleaded their case for increased funding.
Wilson told her story to Payson Mayor Kenny Evans, State Sen. Sylvia Allen and State Rep.-elect Chester Crandell.
Wilson explained she suffered silently as her husband punished her and her oldest son. Through insults, isolation, threats and intimidation, Wilson lost her will to fight back. Where she once thought the world held promise and opportunity, it all shrunk when her husband forced her to spend hours alone in her room in “time out.”
When she finally realized she could take no more, Wilson turned to the Time Out Shelter — a free, emergency safe haven for women.
Last year, 350 women and 129 children turned to Time Out for help. In its 17-year history, 5,060 victims of domestic violence have found assistance at the shelter or through its crisis hotline.
Just in the second half of 2010, the shelter saw a 42 percent increase in the number of women seeking services compared with the same time in 2009.
With more women turning to the shelter for help, costs have risen while funding has fallen.
Shelter Executive Director Gerry Bailey said between 2008 and 2009, the shelter experienced a loss of $200,000 or 25 percent of its operating budget.
Cuts to state funding and decreased revenue from the shelter-run thrift shop are the main cause.
“I want them to see first hand what we offer so when they are on the floor voting, they will think of us,” Bailey said.
“We have been struggling with funding, but right now things are OK.”
Bailey hopes the shelter can maintain its funding, but realizes with the state facing a $2 billion deficit, more cuts may be on the way.
Last year, the domestic violence shelter fund averted big cuts, but the domestic violence line item in the general fund was slashed $2 million.
More than 50 percent of Time Out’s funding comes from the state with federal funds making up 21 percent, grants 9 percent, donations 7 percent and thrift shop revenue 6 percent.
With an increase in new clients seen in 2010, Bailey said now is a bad time for budget cuts.
Allen admitted the state is facing a rough year and with nowhere to turn to raise funds.
Crandall suggested the abusers should pay restitution to the victims instead of the courts.
“This is a very vital program, but how we fund it becomes the issue,” he said.
Instead of doling out fees to the courts and attorneys, abusers should pay the shelter, he said.
“Those causing the abuse should pay the bill. We get caught up paying judges, but we should pay victims first.”
Allen agreed that the system could be tweaked.
For the women and children at the shelter Tuesday, budget cuts were the last thing on their minds.
Starting a new life at the shelter involves freeing themselves from their abusers emotionally and legally.
Domestic violence survivor and now Time Out board member Deana Busby said when she called the shelter for the first time she knew she would never be the same.
“That call is burned in my consciousness,” she said.
“The program really starts when we answer that phone,” Bailey said.
Pam Thomas, lead advocate at the shelter, said the program aims to accept every woman who comes to their door.
Thomas, who often answers those initial calls, said the most important thing is giving them a way out.
“We are here to hear them,” she said.
Walk into the shelter on any given day and you would think you were in a dorm hall. Women are spread throughout the multi-building compound cooking, reading, working on the computer or getting ready.
Most wear smiles on their faces and offer cheerful greetings.
Everywhere encouraging posters hang, but it isn’t what you see, it is what you don’t.
Behind the scenes, shelter employees are busy working on impending court cases, counseling women, advocating for women’s rights and providing job search assistance.
For Wilson, the shelter offered more than a safe place to hide, it gave her the skills needed to live a new life.
“Through classes here I got back my self esteem, self assurance and got educated about domestic violence,” she said.
After staying in the shelter, she moved into transitional housing, where she stayed for two years. With a safe place to live, Wilson focused on her nursing degree, a divorce and working out a budget.
After getting her degree, Wilson moved into her own apartment. Along the way, Time Out was there, gently pushing her along.
More than a job, “I got empowered here,” she said.
Today, Wilson works part time at the shelter as a legal advocate.
Wilson’s success story is one of many. However, every day a new woman walks through the gates at Time Out.
Last year in Payson, domestic violence calls to the police department fell 9 percent.
“However, that small decrease does not compensate for an 83 percent rise in reports the year before,” according to Time Out. “It also doesn’t capture more recent trends, with serous cases arising on a weekly basis beginning in mid 2010.”
With one in three Arizona women experiencing domestic violence in their lifetime, programs like Time Out’s are crucial, Bailey said.
For more information on the shelter, call (928) 472-8007.
Read more about recent domestic violence calls next week in the Roundup.