Domestic violence victim speaks to help others - WTVM.com-Columbus, GA News Weather & Sports

Domestic violence victim speaks to help others

COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) -

One in four women nationwide will be experience domestic violence, according to Hope Harbour, a local shelter for battered women and children.  Erica Edwards, 34, found refuge at the shelter on the heels of a four year abusive relationship.

"Hope Harbour helped me find myself again," added Erica.  In 2004, Erica said she thought she'd found the man of her dreams, but their love relationship soon turned violent.

"It started with a grab first, you know, to the arm, I would snatch away saying don't grab my arm like that but, never knowing I would get choked, dragged and bruised."

The scars are still visible to this day.

"I kept myself closed up, most women that are being abused, do closed themselves up, but it was very hard to get out of that situation."

The agony of living in fear lasted for almost four years until one day Erica decided she's had enough.

"He had a knife sharpener over my head; I was balled up in a fetal position in my mom's bedroom and I said, Lord, God, just get me out of here."

An answer to her prayer came when the phone rang.

"I ran so fast. I jumped out my bathroom window and went to my neighbor and said, ‘Please, I need your help right now'".

Erica stayed with a relative for a week until police forced the man to leave. "Do you know my windows were bolted with nails?  In my mind, I was thinking if I had gone back, I don't think I would have made it out."

Erica is now speaking out—hoping to help others who feel trapped.

"You don't need a man that's going to do bad things to hurt you, break your bones, keeping moving, fight, you run."

Picking up the pieces where she left off before she met ‘Mr. Wrong', Erica is now taking better care of herself.

"I wear my make up now.  I used to not wear those things.  I didn't do my hair, but I do my hair. I had to learn to gain confidence."

The single mother is enrolled in Rivertown School of Beauty and plans to graduate soon. She was also featured in the September edition of her magazine with a message of hope and inspiration for domestic violence victims.

The shelter provides a safe place for women and their children.  All victims are escorted by police to the shelter.  Advocates are on hand to provide counseling, needs assessments and referrals.  Victims are allowed to stay at the shelter for as long as they need.  Once they leave, the shelter provides financial assistance and help with getting a restraining order. 

"We see where we're making a difference just based on the individual families we work with when we see them out in the community and how they've advanced," said Valencia Evans, Prevention and Outreach Director. 

 Warning Signs:

  • Intrusion—constantly asking where you're going or who you're with.
  • Isolation—spending all or most of your time together    
  • Possession/Jealousy— accuses you of flirting, monitors your clothing and make-up
  • Need for Control—extreme anger when things don't go their way, ultimate decision-maker
  • Past Relationships—secretive, makes negative comments about women

    (Source: Hope Harbour)

Call Hope Harbour Hotline: 706-324-3850 or 1-800-33-HAVEN.

Powered by Frankly