She was only home late three minutes from work when she found her boyfriend had become an enraged, green-eyed beast she had never known.
He accused her of having an affair.
“That’s crazy,” she thought. “Where is this coming from?”
They had been together for three years and she had never done anything untrustworthy. In fact, he had never before acted jealous, much less violent.
But on that day, something had snapped. He had cut the phone lines and almost immediately started hitting her.
“I was like a ragdoll to him,” she said.
She ran to the bathroom, but he followed. He hit her so hard the toilet broke and her kidney ruptured.
But Edna Welsheimer is not the type of woman to stay down.
In all the commotion, her cockatiel flew from its cage and distracted her boyfriend long enough for her to get up, hit him and run away.
When police arrived, they couldn’t believe she had knocked him out, since he was so much bigger. She later learned he was wanted for several other assaults, but she never knew about any of them.
Now Welsheimer, 58, doesn’t needs to get hit twice to know when a relationship has gone south. “I am the type of woman that it only happens once,” she said.
She plans to take her story of abuse and use it for good as the new executive director of Time Out Inc.
“When they (abuse victims) come in here and they are crying and I hug them, it is genuine because they are in a situation and I have a true compassion for these women,” she said. “You just want to get through to them, look what I have overcome, look what I have done, hold out, you can too.”
Welsheimer replaces Camille Levee who left Time Out last year and has since relocated back to California for a new job.
Welsheimer was Time Out’s volunteer and marketing specialist when Levee left. Like most people, she was shocked to learn Levee was leaving after joining the organization. In fact, Levee had gotten Welsheimer involved in Time Out.
Welsheimer was happily working as the Senior Center’s operations manager when Levee recruited her.
“She came in and said she was looking for someone just like me,” Welsheimer said. Three weeks later, Levee returned and pressed her to apply for a job as Time Out’s marketing coordinator. Before she knew it, Welsheimer was working for Rim Country’s only women’s shelter.
The shelter takes in roughly 260 woman and 75 children each year. Besides housing, Time Out provides therapy, support and education programs so women can break the cycle of abuse.
Welsheimer says you never know what a woman has gone through.
“It doesn’t matter if it was something like mine, the one occurrence that just about did me in, or something that has been going on for years and they are just now going, ‘Help me.’”
Whatever the situation, Time Out’s volunteers welcome them in, offering a place to cry and tell their story and then gain the strength to move on.
Women stay at least 90 days working through the program, but that can be extended up to 120 days.
The goal of the shelter and its volunteers is to help victims not only to survive, but to grow stronger and empowered.
Welsheimer said she hopes to expand on what former Time Out executive directors Gerry Bailey and Levee started.
“I am not saying anything was wrong with how they were doing it, but we can enhance it,” she said. Welsheimer said she really wants to push education.
Beyond working with shelter clients, Welsheimer focus is on fund-raising.
In 2012, the shelter saw its funding slashed $150,000 when it lost some state and federal grants.
That was a huge hit for the shelter especially as the number of clients has remained steady. Revenue has since gone toward maintaining services, the facility and general upkeep. Projects like building a new play area for the children has gone to the wayside.
Currently, the small, dirt play area has only a few plastic slides.
Being the only outdoor area for children to play in the secure facility it is especially important.
While children participate in weekly educational groups with their mothers, unstructured playtime helps them heal from their experiences and learn healthier ways to communicate and handle their anger, Welsheimer said.
“In many cases, the children need to learn how to simply be a child again, how to have fun and how to live each moment without fear,” she said.
Welsheimer recently applied for a grant to build a new playground. She is also working on several other grants.
Working with money is nothing new for Welsheimer. She grew up in a rural Indiana town of 900. She moved to Arizona 50 years ago and from a young age was counting pennies at the family auction business.
She worked as a navigational database engineer at Honeywell for 17 years before retiring in 2001. She then moved on to helping kick-start new businesses.
Her career was built on solving problems and she was good at it.
Then in February of 2012, she moved to Star Valley with her husband so they could be closer to family. The move forced them to sell off their fancy home and boat and pare down. But that doesn’t bother Welsheimer. She is happy for a simpler life.
“I would have never thought I would use that experience (of abuse) in my career,” she said. “This was something that I choose, I allowed in my life.”
Welsheimer said she is ready to prove herself to Time Out’s board of directors and help grow the organization and funding.
For more information, call Time Out at (928) 472-8007.