Millions of women find themselves trapped in abusive relationships every year, whether physical, emotional or psychological.
WAAY 31 heard one survivor’s story of breaking free from her abuser and turning her survival story into an outreach for others.
“Why did I get to live? Why did I get to live?” Tanya Reagan said.
Reagan has asked herself that question many times over the years, and time has given her an answer.
“I can maybe be a voice of hope to someone else. That’s the only answer I have for that,” she said.
Her journey of healing began after 12 years of an emotionally and verbally abusive marriage. She left several times, but always came back. Then, one day, she found herself staring down the barrel of a gun.
“Frightening. Very frightening,” she said.
Because there was no physical violence, she admits, she made excuses for her husband. She says it’s important that women understand abusers aren’t abusive every day.
“And that’s part of what holds women in those relationships. We love them, and we want a life with them, with the person we fell in love with, not the monster that they are sometimes,” Reagan said.
She gathered up the courage to leave. After a two-day standoff with police, her ex-husband was arrested, convicted and served time in prison. During her ordeal, she realized the difficulties domestic violence victims face just trying to protect themselves from their abuser.
Reagan sought help at a shelter and learned how to help herself. She says it saved her life.
“I know without a doubt, had I not received shelter services, I don’t think I would be here talking with you today," she said.
She’s turned her pain into purpose. She is now the manager of HOPE Place, a domestic violence shelter in Huntsville operated by Crisis Services of North Alabama. It’s a mission and a calling. Her vision for the shelter is simple.
“Hope, and they can start beginning to learn that they’re not alone,” Reagan said.
No, unfortunately, they are not. More than ten million people have their lives torn apart by domestic violence every year. One in four women are victims of severe physical abuse. One in five domestic violence cases involve a weapon. Many lose their lives.
Curt Lindsley is the president of the crisis center’s board of directors. He says even though the number of domestic violence cases is coming down, there is still a stigma, a lot of guilt and shame that their organization is trying to undo.
“And so this is a real problem that affects all aspects of society,” he said. "Focused on helping to raise awareness about the problem, to educate people, to help people learn where they can go to go to get help.”
That help starts with a simple phone call. This is the call center at Crisis Services of North Alabama. There’s someone there 24/7. No one has to know you’re calling. You’re welcome to remain anonymous. There’s no judgment, but it is important to take that first step.
“Then, they’ll be connected to a domestic violence advocate who can help them begin to understand what’s happening to them,” Reagan said.
She is looking forward to the day when there is no more need for a Domestic Violence Awareness Month or crisis shelters, the day when we say, "Enough."
“That’s my answer, is society saying, 'We’re not going to take this anymore. We’re not going to sit and watch this happen in our homes, to our families,'” Reagan said.
If you or someone you know is involved in an abusive relationship, help is just a phone call away. You can call the Crisis Center of North Alabama’s helpline at 256-716-1000.
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