Victim Services helps domestic violence survivor get her life back

When Sally* finally escaped the man who threatened to kill her and her family, she had no job, no home and no confidence. What she did have were health problems and a lot of fear. At the suggestion of police, she contacted our Victim Services program and met with Victim Advocate Lyni Smith, who helped her find housing, create a safety plan, get medical care and counseling and re-enter the job market.

Today, Sally is doing well and has her own cleaning business.

“Lyni saved my life,” she says. “I never could have recovered so quickly from such a traumatic time in my life without the support I received.”

Each year, our Victim Services program serves more than 350 new victims of domestic violence and sexual assault in Stevens County, helping them and their families find the safety and support they need to recover and move forward.

Free and confidential services include a 24-hour help line, temporary safe shelter, crisis intervention (including safety planning), information and referrals, help with court orders, and advocacy. With October being national Domestic Violence Awareness Month, we want those who are living in abusive situations to know that help is out there. It can start with a call to center’s 24-hour help line at 509-684-6139 or 844-509-SAFE (844-509-7233).

Domestic violence doesn’t have to be physical. It can also be verbal, emotional, sexual, economic and social (such as isolating a victim from family and friends). It takes many different forms, but usually follows a familiar pattern toward a common end: control of one person by another.

More than 42,400 incidents of domestic violence were reported to law enforcement authorities in Washington state in 2008. That same year, nearly one in four homicides and almost half of all assaults stemmed from domestic violence, according to the Washington Association of Sheriffs and Chiefs of Police.

Sally’s batterer was a former friend and co-worker she took into her home and tried to help. He controlled her through threats and violence, once slapping her across the room and other times throwing things at her, including a 15-pound cat and a crockpot.

“I want people to know that you do not have to be romantically involved with someone to be a victim of domestic violence,” she says. “During that time in my life, my confidence was shot. I don’t even think I could have held a job, but Lyni really helped me. Thanks to her and Rural Resources, I feel good about myself again.”

* Her name has been changed to protect her safety.