Abuse is not just physical violence
* Physical: beating, pushing, hair pulling, slapping, biting and other acts of physical mistreatment
* Emotional: name-calling, verbal threats, attempts at control, neglect or other acts that make a partner feel devalued
* Sexual: any unwanted sexual contact, sexual pressuring, sexual threats or forced sexual relations
* Economic: controlling access to finances, legal document or other important papers, interfering with work performance through harassing activities, frequent phone calls or refusing to allow a partner to go to work or school
* Psychological: brainwashing a partner or trying to confuse them about reality, monitoring them through technology or other means so the abuser appears omnipresent, switching from violent to kind behavior to regain trust
Are you or something you know being abused? There is a way out.
* Forsyth County Family Haven crisis line: (770) 887-1121
* Legal advocacy/temporary protective order: (770) 889-6384 Ext. 103
* Georgia statewide hotline: 1(800) 33-HAVEN (4-2833)
* National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1(800) 799-7233 1(800) 787-3224 (TTY)
FORSYTH COUNTY -- Every third person, most dressed in purple, stood at their table Thursday. Totaling about two per table, Shandra Dawkins said they represented the ratio of women in the United States who will experience domestic violence in her lifetime.
The crowd had just heard testimonies from two women about their survival through domestic violence, though they explained that at times they went so low they became addicted to drugs as a coping mechanism or they thought they may be better off dead, just like her husband said.
Though the numbers and the testimonies are sobering, the third annual Forsyth County Family Haven Purple Purpose Luncheon was a beacon of hope, as one survivor finished her story and hugged her loving husband and another explained she now works for the shelter program she graduated from.
The annual event is a fundraiser for the nonprofit, which provides shelter and programs for women and their children who have been victims of domestic violence in Forsyth County.
Family Haven has been providing safe temporary shelter, crisis support and referral services for victims since 1989. One of those victims used to be Christy Denton.
“I was pregnant [and 18] and I don’t remember what sparked it, but he pushed me, grabbed my shirt,” Denton said of her first husband.
Physical violence was not the only abuse to which she was subjected.
“In 1999, my mom committed suicide,” she said. “Again, I don’t remember how it started, but he spent the entire day telling me how horrible I was … and take these pills because everyone would be better off if I were dead.”
The luncheon featured a silent auction for purses and other gifts, a Chico’s fashion show and awards for community partners.
Lighter activities mixed in with the heaviness of the subject paralleled the hope that can come from a seemingly hopeless situation.
Denton said the attacks on September 11, 2001 changed her – she saw people dying and wanted her life to be better.
One September 17, adorned with a black eye, ripped clothes and being forced to sleep outside, with her oldest daughter looking out at her from the window, her brothers showed up and took them away to safety.
“That was September 2001,” Denton said. “I can tell you, in September 2002, I was divorced on the ninth, I finished drug and alcohol classes on the 10th and I started college on the 30th.”