For victims of domestic violence, the mental and emotional wounds can cause as much scarring as physical ones.
There are a lack of self-esteem and life skills, trauma, anger and the mental effects of isolation from family and friends, among other things, said Aimee Hall, the executive director of SafeHomes of Augusta, a nonprofit domestic-violence agency.
"They don't know how to do a lot of the stuff that most of us view as basic skills, such as balancing a checkbook, because either it hasn't been allowed or it's a skill they lost because they are beaten down so much they don't think they can do it," Ms. Hall said.
Each victim's situation is different, but there are two things they all have in common, she said.
"Every lady that has come in here has experienced verbal abuse, which is how the violence starts out, and every single domestic violence situation that we see has to do with power and control," she said. "There's a need for abusers to have control over their intimate partner, and it starts with the verbal abuse."
Since 1983, SafeHomes has provided services and shelter for victims of domestic violence in Richmond and surrounding counties. It provides emergency shelter, legal advocacy, confidential weekly support groups, crisis and options counseling, parenting and life-skills classes, emergency financial assistance and relocation.
Through the services, Safe-Homes strives to help victims regain control of their lives, Ms. Hall said.
"That's one thing we have a passion for here at SafeHomes. We want to teach them how to take control and how to live again," she said. "My passion is building their self-esteem, because that is tied to everything they do. Mentally, that affects how they work, how they live, how they raise their children -- every aspect of their life."
They also help the children of victims through a children's program.
"Domestic violence is generational. If a child is in a home where abuse occurs, they will fall victim to abuse or, more often than not, they are going to marry an abuser or become an abuser if there isn't some sort of intervention," she said. "We teach our children that hands are not for hitting, allow them to express themselves, and we give them support. We want to stop the cycle of abuse."
To help enhance its current programs and begin new ones, the organization will hold a fundraiser, Roll the Dice to Save a Life, on Sept. 9. The fundraiser will include a dinner, casino night and silent auction.
"We need people's support so that we can keep the doors open and help domestic violence victims and their children overcome the abuse," Ms. Hall said.
All of the money raised will go toward the agency's programs. For more information on SafeHomes, call (706) 736-2499.
Reach Nikasha Dicks at (706) 823-3336 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
IF YOU GO
WHAT: Roll the Dice to Save a Life, annual dinner and casino night
WHEN: 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 9
WHERE: Julian Smith Casino, 2200 Broad St.
COST: $75 per couple; $40 per person. Tickets should be purchased in advance by calling (706) 738-2326.
INFORMATION: (706) 738-2326
BY THE NUMBERS
Through Dec. 31, SafeHomes had:
- Served 7,687 new victims
- Received 11,659 calls on its crisis hot line
- Provided 87,031 services to residential and nonresidential clients
- SafeHomes provided shelter for 100 women and 92 children (in 2007). Of those sheltered, 71 women had found jobs and only one returned to her abuser.
Source: SafeHomes of Augusta
SAFEHOMES OF AUGUSTA'S 24-HOUR CRISIS HOT LINE: (706) 736-2499