YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – October serves as a month of awareness for many different things and one of those issues is domestic violence.
It also serves as a reminder that too many times, victims do not leave their abusive relationships, or seek the life-saving help that they need. On Monday, a vigil was held to not only honor those who did not make it out of those relationships, but also to celebrate the few that do break the cycle.
“A year ago, I called Sojourner House and you know, they helped me,” Clara said.
With just her daughters and their wagon loaded with what belongings she could carry, Clara finally left the man she had been with for 13 years for good.
She said the last month of their relationship, the verbal abuse she had been dealing with all those years turned physical. And for her, that was the last straw.
A year later, her life has changed for the better.
“It has changed drastically. I have an awesome job now, my girls go to a good school. I am becoming more of a woman and more independent than I was with him,” Clara said.
Her story of survival, and breaking that cycle, is why the people at Sojourner House were celebrating her success on Monday.
“She is the voice that says if you leave a domestic violence situation, you can survive. That you can go on and you can make changes in your life, that if you’re in that situation, you don’t have to stay,” Sojourner House program director Malinda Gavins said.
“We have to stop domestic violence and it takes many voices to work toward that goal,” Mahoning County Domestic Relations Court Judge Beth Smith said.
As for Clara, she hopes others in similar situations can find the strength to leave.
“There is help. There is a way to get out. You know, I did it and I know you can also,” she said.
And that help Clara was talking about can be found through the Sojourner House or Beatitude House and the 24-hour phone line available every day for victims of abuse.