Local Nonprofit Provides Safety for Individuals and Families During the Holidays, and Every Day of the Year
“I feel like I’m living someone else’s story, or dream…or nightmare.” This was Edlyn’s* reality when she finally called 911 a few years ago. Her husband at that time was physically abusive. “If you leave me,” he would say, “I’m going to find you and I’m going to kill you,” recalls Edlyn. She lived in a constant state of fear—fear of staying and fear of leaving. “I didn’t know anybody in Central Oregon and I didn’t know what to do,” she says. “I didn’t have anyone. The police gave me the Saving Grace phone number.”
Bend-based nonprofit organization Saving Grace: Imagine Life Without Violence separates fact from fiction when it comes to intimate partner and family violence. “All types of families—in every part of the county, from every background and walk of life—experience this type of violence,” says Interim Executive Director, Trish Meyer. “Another myth is that all domestic violence is physical. Victims may also be abused verbally, emotionally, financially, and psychologically.”
During October’s Domestic Violence Awareness month, Saving Grace highlighted the various types of domestic violence through first-person quotes and the hashtag: #ThisIsDV.
Some examples include:
“Every day I heard, “You’re so stupid, you are lucky that I still love you.”
“He follows me everywhere, to school, the store and even to work.”
“She would text me all day wanting to know where I was. Even when I was at work, if I didn’t respond immediately, she would think I was hiding something from her.”
Saving Grace answers an average of eight calls per day to their 24-Hour Helpline, which provides crises support, information and referrals. For many, this resource is invaluable and is the same number Edlyn first called for help. In December, she will celebrate her four-year employment anniversary with Saving Grace as a Bilingual Advocate. “I’m able to tell my clients, ‘I’ve been in your same situation and I know you can do this,’” she says.
With the holiday season approaching, Saving Grace is all too familiar with isolation many clients experience. “Holidays were sad, depressing,” says Edlyn. “We never spent any holidays with family, with anybody. We lived for years as hermits. Christmas was like any other day,” she explains. “After the separation, my son and I were happier. We were meeting new people and sharing the holidays with new friends and people from church. The advocates and counselors with Saving Grace helped me and supported me to believe in myself and make my own decisions.”
Since 2006, Saving Grace has offered supervised parenting time and supervised exchanges in their safe and neutral location called Mary’s Place. “The non-offending parent and the parent who uses violence are able to spend meaningful parenting time with their children without having direct contact with each other,” says Mary’s Place program manager, Gail Bartley. “The holidays are an equally crucial time for all family members to feel safe, secure and connected with each other, in spite of their greater situation.”
If “life free from violence” appears to be too big of a dream, Edlyn’s story is proof that a compassionate stranger on the other line of a phone call can provide the first step in the process. If ending domestic violence as a whole seems too lofty of a goal, maybe instead we can each be just one person’s saving grace.
*Edlyn’s full name is not given to protect her privacy.
24-Hour Help Line: 541.389.7021