“It was almost 25 years ago when I found myself in harm’s way and in desperate need to escape a violent relationship that I had endured for far too long. For some time I had known that if I was going to live, the marriage would have to end. During that last beating, when I thought I was going to die, it became crystal clear that the value of the house was not equal to the value of my life. I don’t know what I might have done had it not been for Center for Hope and Safety.” –Natalie
From an early age, we’re taught that breaking something is bad. Don’t break the dishes. Don’t break a date. Don’t break a promise.
But some things need to be broken. We need to break the silence when something is wrong and no one is speaking up. We need to break a sweat to get something worthwhile accomplished.
We need to break a sweat to break the cycle of family violence that robs people of their safety and security, diminishes their quality of life, takes away life itself.
The patterns vary, but in domestic violence the cycle typically involves:
- A period of building tension, in which the batterer is moody, humiliating, or threatening and the partner is soothing and placating, believing that things will get better
- An acute explosion involving physical, sexual, or verbal abuse
- A respite or honeymoon period, in which the batterer apologizes, seeks forgiveness, promises that it will never happen again—and the partner believes this to be true, followed by …
- … a period of building tension …
- And so on, and on.
Fueling this vicious cycle is the power of denial on the part of the person abused—denial that the threats will turn into violence, denial that the abuse is all that bad, denial that it will happen again.
Breaking the pattern requires stepping away from this destructive, repetitive circle and heading in a new direction.
At Center for Hope and Safety, we are there for people like Natalie who are taking that first bold, brave, courageous step.
We are there for them when they simply need a safe place to be. And we are there for them at every step along the journey that will take them to a new life away from their abuser, a life of dignity and pride, a life of self-sufficiency, a life free of violence and the fear of violence.
We are there to overcome denial with affirmation and empowerment. To replace danger with safety, powerlessness with strength, despair with hope. Safety … strength … and hope.
We are also there for the children, offering creative arts therapy to help them heal. And to help disrupt another cycle of violence—the possibility that kids who live in abusive homes will grow up to become abusers themselves.
The first step away from the cycle of violence is the hardest. But after that, you won’t be alone.
Center for Hope and Safety (formerly Shelter Our Sisters) is founded on the vision and belief that every person has the right to be safe, empowered, and free from violence and the fear of violence. Central to this belief, Center for Hope and Safety seeks to eliminate domestic violence. Additionally, the agency aims to reduce related social problems, such as child abuse, sexual assault, substance abuse, sexism, racism, and other forms of oppression.
If you or someone you know is being abused call Center for Hope and Safety’s 24 hour hotline at (201) 944-9600.
Recognize Domestic Violence Awareness Month throughout October with events held by Center for Hope Safety and YWCA Bergen County’s healingSPACE: A Sexual Violence Resource Center. YWCA’s National Week Without Violence™ will be observed Monday, October 19th through Friday, October 23rd. Click here for more information.