MOUNT PLEASANT, S.C. (WCBD)- There were tears, laughter, silence and applause as four domestic violence survivors spoke about their pasts in abusive relationships and journeys of ongoing recovery on Thursday.
My Sister’s House hosted the town hall style meeting where the survivors, who were all women, spoke to an audience at Charleston County Public Library in Mount Pleasant.
Stories of pain were all shared. The youngest survivor was Citadel Cadet Jayln Mitchell, who had an abusive boyfriend when she began college.
“He was so mad and that was the first time he had called me out of my name and he threw a chair at me,” said Mitchell.
Every women found courage, especially Andrea Limina. She was in an on and off abusive relationship for years when she reached out to trusted people.
“I started opening up to my friends about what was going on to make a plan. Two of my friends came to help me move out in a few hours while he was gone,” said Limina.
For the survivors, leaving was not as easy as others thought it was. But, Elizabeth Ballard had enough when she and her son were in danger.
“I walked aimlessly in the street for what seemed like hours until I ended up at my mom’s coworker’s house. He recognized who I was and immediately called my mom,” said Ballard.
Abuse started in the family of Sonja Pinckney Rhodes, who is using her religion to keep growing stronger in her continuous recovery.
“Today I still speak positive confessions to myself. That I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me,” said Rhodes.
My Sister’s House says that domestic violence is becoming more common in the Lowcountry, where 13,000 people will go through abuse each year.
Survivors encourage people to look for red flags for abuse in people such as drug and alcohol abuse, rudeness, controlling tendencies, depression, isolation and turning others against you.
“Due to the isolating, embarrassing and difficult to recognize factors of domestic violence you all know someone (who is a victim),” said Sydney Conrad, the Director of Education and Training at My Sister’s House. “Every 24 hours, South Carolina averages 555 domestic violence victims assisted and 109 crisis calls answered.”
Aside from education, the survivors want people to start change inside their homes with children and parents. They also want to break the stigma of letting people know about abuse and leaving their abuser.
“Just making sure (children) feel like they can talk to you and you’re working through those insecurities at home,” said Mitchell.
“With my grandchildren they know I love them. I want to give them all the things that I didn’t get,” said Rhodes.
You can contact My Sister’s House at this link or via their Crisis Line (843-744-3242), by their toll free number (1-800-273-HOPE) or through email at email@example.com.
The National Domestic Violence Hotline can be reached at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233).