As a girl who grew up in what I later learned was an abusive home with domestic violence, I found that I carried those same patterns with me throughout several relationships in my life. I didn’t even realize I was in an abusive relationship with my first husband until I went to the parenting class that was required by the court for a divorce. This was in the late ‘90s.
I still had hope. I married for a second time, thinking I had found someone different, and again I found myself in an abusive relationship – only this one was mainly emotional abuse. It still had an effect on me, physically as well as emotionally. I found myself in counseling with him, but it didn’t help because he was not willing to work on things. I continued in abusive relationship after abusive relationship, the last one being the worst of all.
With the personal experience and that of family members who also live with abuse, I became driven to know all I could about domestic violence. Even during my teaching career, I went to seminars on the effects of domestic violence on children and learned all I could on what it did to children and to women. I focused on this throughout my schooling in human services and on into my studies for my bachelor’s degree in social work. I completed extensive research in the area.
Research did not lead to a healthy relationship.
Even through all of this education, I still continued to have relationships with people who were
someday I would meet someone who would be “normal” – although I realized I didn’t really know what “normal” was. I had read about all the signs of an abusive relationship and knew how to recognize the red flags; yet, when I saw them in one partner after another, I thought if I could just love that person enough, he would change and it would get better. What I actually have learned is that I was giving up so much of myself to please him, I was hardly myself – which is typical in an abusive relationship.
Leaving is hard. My first relationship was the hardest to leave because it involved my children, and he used them to control me when we split up. I reached the point where I could no longer take not controlling my own life. It was scary to have two young children, while I worked and went to school, but I did it, and it made me a little stronger. When I knew it was time to leave my second husband, I was not scared because I knew I had made it on my own with the boys before and I could do it again. I kept telling myself that life was too short to live it unhappily. With each relationship I left, I never gave up that hope that someday I would meet someone who would treat me better – with the love and respect I deserved.
…the very worst one yet. I thought I had met that person and let myself be drawn into yet another abusive relationship – the
very worst one yet. I was not even close to being
prepared to deal with what I went through with him,
controlling, emotionally abusive, and who drove me down. Yet, throughout it all, I kept the hope that
even with all that I had endured. He was manipulative, controlling, intimidating – every word that was used to describe an abuser. It was the scariest relationship I had been in, and I again was giving everything I could to try to please him more. The only thing it was doing was driving away my family and making me feel as though I was crazy.
…a turning point in my life… Then I happened to read a book that made a complete change in the way I thought about those relationships. The book that made a turning point in my life was, Why Does He Do That? Inside the Minds of Angry and Controlling Men, written by Lundy Bancroft. After reading that book, I knew that I never had a true relationship because of the men who I seemed to be drawn to or who were drawn to me. I started to concentrate on myself, my family and school; and, out of the blue, I did meet someone new. It turned out to be what I always thought I could have – a healthy relationship. It is a relationship without control, jealousy, intimidation,
belittling, name-calling, and threats. It is one where
the two of us work together. I won’t say, though,
that it’s not work for me. At times I still feel myself
slipping back into old habits of things I was used to, such as worrying about so many things I may be doing wrong. But we talk through it, and he understands and works through it with me. I can actually talk to him about things and not feel as though I have to watch everything I say for fear it may be taken wrong. I don’t have to worry about being accused of things if I have to work late or go to trainings. It is not all about what one person wants – it’s about what we both want.
Hope prevails. So, even with all I went through, I never lost the hope that someday I would have the chance to meet someone who sees me for the person I am and appreciates me. And the cycle of abusive relationships ends. I am learning that I am a person who is worthy of having a happy, healthy relationship. It happened.
Through the Eyes of a Volunteer I became a volunteer after reading a newspaper article written by a woman staying at the shelter during the Christmas season. She wrote how the staff and community helped provide her with food and toys so she could give her children a good Christmas. New Directions is not only a shelter but a warm, safe, and loving home to so many women and children in our community. I am honored and blessed to be a part of this wonderful organization. -Heidi Burns
NEW DIRECTIONS SERVICES Intervention:
Child Assault Prevention
Flirting or Hurting
Stewards of Children
Domestic Violence in the Workplace
NEW DIRECTIONS FUNDING Baseline State Funds
Centers for Disease Control: DELTA Project
Family Violence Prevention & Services Grant
Marriage License Tax
Mental Health and Recovery
When I first became a part of the Teen Advisory Council (TAC), I had no idea how big a role it would play in my life. I first joined because it sounded interesting, I had friends that were a part of it, and one of my favorite teachers from East Knox, Christina Barnard, was now the adviser. From the first meeting I loved it. I felt like I had been around these people for years, and it was so easy to just fall into the flow of things. I began enjoying it even more when we began going to schools to present Digital Line.
Prevention of cyber bullying Digital Line is a program for middle schoolers about cyber bullying. There really is nothing more daunting than standing in front of twenty thirteen- year olds who think they know everything you have to tell them, especially when you’re not much of a public speaker. But, during the presentation, looking out in the class and seeing that something we said got through to at least one student—that makes all of the time and effort more than worth it. Even though I loved that we were helping middle
schoolers and just beginning to develop a workshop
to help high schoolers, I knew that I wanted to do
more. So when I was offered the chance to work with the New Directions organization and be a part of how they’ll function in the future, I jumped at it. At the meeting in June and every meeting since, even though I’m one of the youngest ones there, I always feel included. I know that what I have to say matters, that what I have to contribute is going to make a difference.
…I’ll take it with me… Over all, working with TAC and New Directions has made a major difference in my life. It’s affected how I look at relationships, both in general and in my life. It’s helped me develop a voice, a sense of community, and a confidence that I can do something to impact and help my world. Going into my senior year of high school, I know that I’m going to miss TAC and the work that I do after I graduate. But I’ve taken so much out of just one year of being a part of this organization. What I do with New Directions is more than just an extra-curricular: it’s something I’ll take with me through the rest of my life.
New Initiatives at DELTA
by Christina Barnard, DELTA Coordinator
Stewards of Children is a child sexual abuse prevention program that engages participants to actively prevent abuse. DELTA staff Laurie Thompson and Christina Barnard were trained to facilitate this program in the community. Stewards of Children teaches 7 Steps to Protecting Children:
Learn the Facts
Talk About It
Make a Plan
Act on Suspicions
Because 1 in 4 girls and 1 in 6 boys will be sexually abused before they turn eighteen, the DELTA Project is pleased to provide this curriculum that encourages adults to take responsibility for protecting children. Studies show that Stewardsof Children increases knowledge, improves attitudes, and changes participants’ behavior. This program is available free of charge to churches, community groups, schools, parents, and any other child-serving organization.
The Domestic Violence in the Workplace Committee planned and implemented a breakfast event for the fifty largest employers in Knox County. At the well-attended breakfast on October 18, employers were asked to make safety and support for domestic violence victims a priority in their companies. They were asked to consider how training and policy about domestic violence in the workplace could lower their bottom lines, as well as increase safety and satisfaction for their employees. As a result, the DELTA Project will be providing training to several local businesses.
Community Continues to Show Support by Donating Cash, Merchandise, Services
November 2011 – October 2012
Our heartfelt thanks…
to the following individuals, businesses, and organizations who have contributed cash, goods, and talents to keep the shelter open.