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Staff Sgt. Eugenia Angibeau, an active guard reservist, knows first-hand about the devastating effects of domestic violence, and she wants to make sure others know, too.
“I’m a survivor of domestic abuse,” said Angibeau, 39, a Fort Knox resident. She is attached to the 354th Chemical Company in Louisville.
Though she vowed at a young age never to be in a relationship that involved domestic abuse, she found herself in just that situation.
“I’ve been in domestic shelters, homeless shelters,” Angibeau said.
When her then-husband was jailed for another crime, she saw it as her chance to get out of the abusive relationship.
“I always say that God was the one that took him out of my life,” she said.
The relationship was not the first time Angibeau witnessed domestic abuse.
“I saw a lot of abuse growing up that I did not realize was abuse,” she said. “That’s just the way it was.”
When she was 12, an uncle killed an aunt and then himself, which is what prompted her to vow never to be in such a relationship.
While stationed at Fort Meade, Md., a few years ago, she witnessed violence between members of a motorcycle group she belonged to, with the violence escalating to murder. Angibeau began working with The Women’s Center in Washington, D.C., to provide help with domestic abuse efforts.
In October 2008, Angibeau established Riders Against Domestic Abuse. She is chief executive officer.
“It started with a ride,” she said.
Angibeau decided to raise awareness of domestic abuse with a motorcycle ride.
“There’s always a ride for breast cancer, Toys for Tots, lupus,” she said.
Those causes are all good reasons to ride, she said, but she felt domestic abuse should be the focus of a motorcycle ride, too. Many of the motorcyclists who rode, she said, were survivors of abuse.
The ride was Dec. 18, 2008, and was successful, she said. One hundred percent of the proceeds went to The Women’s Center.
In 2010, RADA was incorporated, and in December of that year, Angibeau was attached to the 354th. The organization now is seeking tax-exempt nonprofit status.
Since its founding, RADA has expanded to 13 states with 26 volunteers, something that has come as a bit of a surprise to Angibeau.
“I thought it would be a one-woman show,” she said.
In addition to taking on the role of founding and operating RADA, Angibeau has worked with Sexual Harassment Assault Response Program, a military program that addresses sexual harassment and abuse issues.
SHARP includes classes and resources.
“Everything begins with education,” Angibeau said.
Having experienced sexual harassment in the military herself and brushed it off, Angibeau recognizes the need for SHARP. She also was in the military when she was experiencing domestic abuse, and knows how it can affect a soldier.
“I was that soldier ... who couldn’t make it to work because my husband was abusing me,” she said.
Education, she said, is key to SHARP and RADA, and such education needs to start at the middle school level, though she’s not sure how that can be implemented.
In the meantime, Angibeau continues efforts to provide resources for those affected by domestic abuse.
RADA’s campaign of providing emergency kits to shelters and centers, among other places, began in January 2012 and also has been successful.
“It will be an ongoing campaign,” Angibeau said.
A new campaign called Operation Transition to Survive, which seeks to provide beds through donations for domestic abuse survivors, has kicked off.
“This one’s going to be a little bit bigger,” she said.
The beds will be used for shelters and families transitioning to homes. Angibeau urged those who wish to help or donate to contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
While she is happy with the success of RADA, Angibeau thinks the organization has more growth in store.
“We’re still a work in progress,” she said.
Robert Villanueva can be reached at (270) 505-1743 or email@example.com.
Getting to know Eugenia Angibeau