October is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month. You can help end violence against women.
DONATE YOUR USED CELL PHONES at Verizon's HopeLine and help victims of domestic violence become survivors.
MAKE A DONATION to the National Domestic Violence Hotline or the National Network to End Domestic Violence.
You can make a difference.
In honor of Domestic Violence Awareness Month, we're bringing you the personal story of one women who escaped her abuser. With the help of a crisis shelter -- Interval House -- Janine got her life back and is now working to empower other women who have been affected by domestic violence. Here, she tells the story of how she went from victim to Architect of Change.
I grew up in a loving home where I was not exposed to abuse. Unlike so many stories where battered women have themselves grown up in abusive situations, I had not. I believed in every part of my being that I would marry my true love and live happily ever after.
As a young and loving individual filled with dreams, I had no idea of the nightmare that I was about to enter when I married my abuser. Coming from a strong faith background and believing in the institution of marriage, I did everything in my power to make my marriage work. The abuse was devastating, physically and emotionally.
During my horrendous marriage, I lived in constant terror, and the nightmare became progressively worse as time went on. When I tried to go to work, my husband appeared and bashed in my car. I lived as a prisoner, and finally it became so terrible that I made the decision that I was going to leave.
I was depressed all the time and completely miserable, but most of all I didn't want my kids growing up in a violent home. So I made the call to Interval House. I remember clearly like it was yesterday. The minute I walked through the door of the shelter I knew that everything was going to be okay. I didn't know what I was going to do, but I knew that whatever road I ended up on, I was going to be safe and that my decisions were my decisions and not his.
That was the beginning of a life that I had never dreamed possible for me and my two children (who were 21/2 and 31/2 at the time). With the counseling and support that I received I realized that no matter what, his actions were not my responsibility and that I could never change him. I dealt with my issues and those of my children. I learned to like myself again.
After leaving Interval House’s emergency and transitional shelters I worked very hard to make a living for my children and me. When I became strong enough, I began to volunteer regularly at Interval House’s emergency shelter to help others. My children and I became fixtures at the crisis shelters where I gave my time and shared the lessons I had learned with other women in crisis.
I’ve now been on Interval House’s full time staff for the past 15 years doing a lot in the community as far as education and prevention, and sharing my story as well as speaking about the programs and services that Interval House has to offer.
I'm so grateful for the chance to work at an organization that truly has more heart, passion, and dedication than anything I’ve ever seen in my lifetime. When I look back at my life, I’m almost thankful for the experiences I’ve endured, because it was those tragic moments in my life that have made me the strong person that I am today, and that have given me a new focus in life. If it had not been for Interval House, I truly believe that I would not be here today. They gave me my life back and also made it a whole lot better and I could never thank them enough for just being there!
Interval House is an award-winning domestic violence agency providing comprehensive services 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, in over 60 different languages. Over 99% of Interval House staff and advocates are multilingual, ethnically diverse, and have been personally affected by domestic violence. Interval House’s innovative programs have been recognized with over 400 awards, including three Presidential Awards, two California Governor’s Awards, and the U.S. Department of Justice Award citing Interval House as a “model” domestic violence program to the nation.