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Urging women to demonstrate hope through GRACE Conference

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Guest column by Sheila O'Mara

There is an amazing opportunity coming April 21 for this community to support SpringHaven, our domestic violence shelter and program. A women’s conference at Grace Heartland Church in Elizabethtown will feature a few nationally known speakers and some that were locally grown. There will be great info, food and fellowship and every ticket purchased will be a donation for SpringHaven. 

I just don’t want this to be an announcement for an event. I want to help you understand why it is so important to support this cause.

It is hard to describe what SpringHaven is. It’s more than what it appears.

SpringHaven is more than just a safe place to go for a victim of domestic violence. It is more than a program to help victims get healthy and on their feet so they can begin a new life without violence in it. It is more than a supportive advocate sitting next to you in a courtroom during an EPO Hearing or criminal court trial.   

Before one can truly appreciate a service like SpringHaven, one must understand what domestic violence really is.

Domestic violence is a hard pill to swallow. No one thinks it will happen to them. No one wants it to happen to them. It doesn’t start the first day of a relationship. It is usually a gradual process. Trust is built and bonds are formed. Domestic violence happens when one person wears down the other – sometimes physically and/or sexually, but every time emotionally. 

At the end of the day, domestic violence is about instilling fear in someone else. Fear is a horrible emotion to have present in your everyday life.

No matter what type of violence occurs in a relationship – it is ugly. Most people don’t want to talk about it.  

It upsets people and most cannot fathom what it is like. There are questions and accusations that usually revolve around what the victim did or the social implications for a couple or family experiencing these types of problems. There is a stigma for each person involved in domestic violence and that is incredibly intimidating to overcome for someone who is trying to break free from abusive behavior.

SpringHaven truly is a haven – not just in the physical sense, but in the emotional one. The folks at SpringHaven provide belief. They believe that it is not the fault of a victim. They believe that the victim has worth and value and deserves to live a better life. They believe, even when other people may not, that the victim did nothing to deserve the violence in their life.

That belief is huge for a victim who has little to no belief in themselves and who may be too afraid and has too few resources availableto create a different life. That belief is a lifeline to someone who is living in a dark world of fear and loneliness. 

Victims of domestic violence are very lonely. It is not exactly a topic for dinner conversation or mindless chatter before the PTO meeting.

Victims are afraid most of the time. They learn to cope and they learn to make excuses because there isn’t always a clear exit and the life they know may be horrific, but at least they are alive.

Victims are never well rested. Victims are thinking about how to avoid the next attack – whether that is verbal or physical. They learn to modify their behavior and anticipate the behavior of someone else. It is only multiplied if there are children involved. 

It is a hard life and an unwanted life and it takes a tremendous amount of bravery and courage to break free.

When you commit to supporting SpringHaven, you are committing to providing belief and hope for a future for the victims of domestic violence.  

There are thousands of victims – many who will be reading this article and identifying with every word and yet still will be afraid to seek help. 

Please consider attending the GRACE Conference on April 21 or come out to see reality star Amy Roloff, the keynote speaker, that evening. Please give present and future victims of domestic violence the gift of belief in themselves and hope that tomorrow can be a better day. 

For information about the GRACE Conference, visit www.springhaveninc.org or call (270) 765-4057. Not only will you have a fabulous day, but you may provide the beginning of a new life for a victim of this ugly phenomenon called domestic violence.

Sheila O'Mara of Elizabethtown is a motivational speaker who participating in the GRACE Conference.