Never again

Photo by Mark Hancock

She endured physical and mental abuse from the person who was supposed to love her — until the day her husband hit their children. That was when she left and found a way to change her future.

“When they’re only 2 and 3, they can’t defend themselves. I felt bad because I wasn’t there to protect them,” she said. “I came home and saw the red marks on them that were turning to bruises.

“I’m never going to let another man put a hand on my children,” said the mother, who is not identified by her full name to protect her identity.

Raising awareness
During domestic violence awareness month through October, the Oklahoma District Attorneys Association has partnered with Verizon Wireless to help victims of abuse like Ann through a cell phone drive and showings of the documentary Telling Amy’s Story, the tale of a Verizon employee who was killed by her husband.

Verizon Wireless provides
domestic abuse victims with refurbished phones as part of its HopeLine
program, said Ginger Daril, a public relations manager for Verizon.
Anyone can donate used cell phones and accessories at drop boxes at
district attorneys’ offices across the state. The company will load
phones with 3,000 free minutes so that victims of domestic violence can
borrow them while they rebuild their lives.

“Victims of domestic abuse often share a phone account with the person who is abusing them,” Daril said.

“Those phones need to be completely out of their hands.”

2001, the company has collected more than 10 million phones nationwide.
If phones cannot be refurbished, the company can still use them to
obtain money for the HopeLine grant program, which supports programs
focused on anti-bullying and healthy relationships. The company has
given $18 million in grants since it began.

Speaking up
Mashburn, Cleveland County district attorney, said that the District
Attorneys Association partnered with Verizon to raise awareness about
domestic violence. One in four women in the nation is the victim of
domestic violence, and Oklahoma ranks third in the nation for women
murdered by men, according to a Violence Policy Center report.

said he hopes statistics like those will raise awareness and encourage
victims to work with prosecutors to end the abusers’ pattern of
behavior. Prosecution doesn’t always mean jail time and instead can
provide tools like counseling.

of our battle is trying to convince the battered spouse to come to
court,” he said. “They have to know that they have the capacity and
power to do something about it once they make the decision.”

times, the abuser is still controlling the victim even if the abuser is
in jail, Mashburn said, but he hopes programs like the partnership with
Verizon can help victims make the decision to change.

Starting over
Ann, who is now 35, made her decision three years ago, she found refuge
at the YWCA shelter, where she has been for two years. She said that
during her time there, she has learned that she did nothing to provoke
her abuser and didn’t deserve the years of mental abuse, instances of
choking, being dragged by her hair and controlling behavior like telling
her when to take a shower. Not only did her confidence suffer, but her
appearance did too, she said.

would say to me, ‘Nobody’s going to want you. Look at you,’ Toward the
end of the relationship, he wouldn’t let me leave with both of the
children because he knew if I left with both of them, I wasn’t coming
back,” she said. “He used my children to get me to come back to him.”

she had the courage to leave, now Ann has been divorced nearly two
years, is looking for a house of her own and wants to help others like
her “because they are not alone.”

she has changed the way she feels about herself. “I’m a lot stronger. I
know what to look for now. I’ve come a long way. I am very proud of
myself. He told me many times, ‘You couldn’t do it without me.’ I’ve
been doing it for three years without him.”

Telling Amy’s Story
7 p.m. Oct. 21
Great Lawn of the Myriad Gardens
301 W. Reno Ave.

»1:30 p.m.
Oct. 18 : Domestic Violence simulation at McFarlin Memorial United
Methodist Church, 419 South University Blvd., Norman. Call 321-3484 for

» 8:30 a.m.-noon Oct. 29: Silent Witness at Norman Public Library 225 North Webster Avenue, Norman. Call 701-2600 for information.

» Family violence: 917-YWCA (9922)
» Rape crisis: 943-RAPE (7273)
» Counseling and groups: 948-1770
» VPO assistance: 297-1139
» To volunteer: 948-1770
» U.S. National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-SAFE (7233)

Dawn Watson

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