[/box]The day started like any other. Mary loaded the children into the car to take them to school. Instead they came to us. She came to HOPE Place.
Mary was so afraid. She and the children waited in the little HOPE Place lobby all day, agonizing, afraid to stay, afraid not to. Anxious not to force her to make a decision, we made her and her children as comfortable as possible and we waited along with her.
That afternoon around three o’clock Mary panicked. If she left right now, she thought, and got the children home, it would be like a normal school day. He would never know and maybe he wouldn’t hurt her. Just as she opened the door to leave, her son grabbed her arm. “Mom”, he pleaded, “let’s stay.”
For nearly 30 years, HOPE Place, a program of Crisis Services of North Alabama, has been working to stop the violence in our families. Over 13,000 women, children, and men too, have found a place where they can be safe from fear and pain. Hundreds of lives have been saved. Thousands of lives have been changed.
Mary’s children weren’t like other children. At first glance, they seemed wonderful, never noisy, never fidgety, and always respectful.
Most children, normal children for example, sometimes get so excited when they’re playing that they forget and laugh too loud or raise their voices to a yell or even an occasional shriek, but not Mary’s children. Children who’ve watched as their mother is beaten so savagely that it requires surgery to repair the damage to her face never make too much noise.
Most children, normal children, sometimes get too “rambunctious”. They run through the house and they throw things and sometimes they break things, but Mary’s children never ran through the house. Their mother couldn’t walk without a crutch. They knew why and they were afraid it was their fault.
Most of us can’t imagine the courage it takes to come to HOPE Place. Most of us have never had our spirits crushed by the years of emotional and physical abuse that Mary endured. But finally, after months and months of agonizing soul searching, she decided to take a huge chance, risking certain injury and perhaps her life. She called HOPE Place.
Today, Mary is the marketing director for the local office of a large national company. Surgery repaired the damage to her hip and she no longer walks with a crutch. She has served on the Crisis Services of North Alabama board of directors and raised thousands of dollars to help the children of HOPE Place.
There is a downside. Her children get too loud sometimes and they’ve been known to shriek and run through the house like maniacs. Her smile is beautiful when she talks about it.
Mary isn’t her real name. But her story is based on fact. Violence happens in our families every single day. Huntsville police responded to 4,449 domestic violence calls in 2010! Police in Decatur answer 150 calls each month, in Scottsboro and Athens between 15 and 20.
Only 25 percent of family violence is ever reported!
Most experts agree that 1 in 4 women will be touched by domestic violence at some point in their lives. The odds are really good that if you don’t already know someone trapped by violence you will very soon meet someone who is. Will you have the courage to “get involved?” It really doesn’t take much. Tell them they are important, that you care about them, that they don’t deserve to be hurt and mistreated and tell them about HOPE Place and Crisis Services of North Alabama.
Jennifer is the creator and co-editor of Rocket City Mom. She is also a compulsive writer, avid reader, occasional singer and former communications wizard turned toddler wrangler. You can often spot her and her little ones cruising the kiddie hot-spots in their "Rocket Van".