Speaker shares personal story of leaving abusive relationship
A featured speaker at Friday’s Logan County Domestic Violence Awareness Day Ceremony received a standing ovation in the packed Union Station gymnasium, along with hugs following the event, for sharing with attendees her brave account of leaving a domestic violence situation she found herself in 12 years ago.
By giving a personal look at her previous life situation, domestic violence survivor Angie* said she wanted to help overturn stereotypes and many misunderstandings that often surround intimate partner violence. She said she had never imagined that what started as a well-meaning relationship and then turned five-month marriage would leave her in such dire straights.
“People know me as a strong and outgoing person, and I’m a former Marine, so they are often surprised when they hear my story,” she said during the ceremony hosted by Soteria House of TCN. “It’s been 12 years since I’ve had to re-live these things.
“As some of you who have found yourselves in this situation can relate, sometimes well-meaning people say the wrong things. Yes, I am strong, but I didn’t even realize I was being controlled until it was almost too late. Domestic violence can happen to anyone.”
“I didn’t realize it then, but he was ‘interviewing’ me to find out everything he possibly could about me. I told him that I’d been married once and that the Bible was important to me, so I never wanted to be divorced again…He would later use that against me.
“Then we got married, and three weeks later, it was like a switch had been flipped.”
The speaker said her former husband began to control everything she did and put a key-logger on her computer at her workplace so that he could track her activity. He also began isolating her from her friends and family.
Whenever she would protest his prying behaviors, she said he would misconstrue her Christian beliefs, making statements such as, “You need to be like Sarah — she obeyed Abraham.”
“I was sleep-deprived all the time and I was missing work,” she said, so her manager began questioning her work absences and that is when Angie opened up to her boss about her troubles at home. She then contacted a domestic violence helpline, simply stating, “I don’t know what to do.”
After talking to a Christian friend and also a counselor, Angie said she suddenly was aware that she was in an abusive relationship and that she needed to leave.
“By the grace of God, I got out and I started my healing.”
In light of her own experiences, Angie urged the attendees to watch out for their friends, neighbors and co-workers.
“Just because someone is happy and bubbly, that doesn’t mean that they’re not struggling. Look for the signs of domestic violence and ask them questions if you observe something and be there to support them.”
The facility provides more than just a roof over the heads of individuals fleeing from dangerous situations. Employees of the shelter and New Directions of TCN, along with volunteers, work tirelessly to help the victims get back onto their feet, helping them to secure employment and permanent housing for them and their children.
Soteria House manager Keely Blair said from Sept. 30, 2018, to Oct. 1, 2019, the shelter served a total of 102 clients. She related that Soteria’s success can be directly traced to its community partnerships, including the help of local law enforcement to direct victims to the save haven, along with community organizations, businesses and churches that generously supply a multitude of donations and items for clients who are starting new lives on their own.
Logan County Sheriff’s Deputy Cole Piatt was recognized for his dedicated efforts to serve the shelter throughout the past year as the deputy assigned through a Ohio Office of Criminal Justice Services grant.
This year’s Liz Parker Community Hero Award was presented to Dylan Coleman of Simply Stripes Lawn Service. He started a Go Fund Me page for the Soteria House and then was able to purchase a mower, weed eater and gasoline for the lawn equipment to keep the facility grounds in tip-top shape, officials said.
The award honors the late Liz Parker, who passed away suddenly in December 2017 and was a longtime victim advocate at the Logan County Prosecutor’s Office.
For individuals facing a crisis situation, local law enforcement can help direct victims to Soteria House representatives. There also is a local crisis line available at (877) 394-1046.
The Logan County New Directions of TCN office is located at 1855 W. State Route 47, Bellefontaine, and can be reached at 593-5777.
*The speaker’s last name is withheld to protect her privacy.