Domestic violence survivors & counselors speak out on epidemic of abuse behind closed doors in community

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — Darlene Russell is getting her life on track with support from people who care at the Lovelady Center in Birmingham. She feels fortunate to have escaped a cycle of emotional and physical abuse. “And the first time that he did it, he told me that he wouldn’t do it again. And I stayed and I believed him. But the pattern kept repeating itself,” said Russell.  If I had stayed, one of us probably would have lost our lives.”

Vanessa Bailey is also recovering from a lifetime of abuse at the Lovelady Center. “I grew up in a situation watching my mother go through it,” said Bailey. “And you get, after you hear so many times you’re terrible, or you’re bad and you’re this and you’re that-you start to believe the negative.”

The director of Project S.A.F.E., Carolyn Adams, has seen tens of thousands of court-referred domestic violence offenders in Birmingham. She says there’s a need for more outreach education, more resources, and more shelters for victims. According to Adams, getting people to safety is the first priority and sometimes that takes a neighbor stepping in and calling police. “I think if you see someone in an incident or a situation where it’s escalating and there’s a potential for violence then I think you should call or be involved. I think that’s what’s going to have to change our communities is we have to be involved,” said Carolyn Adams, Director of Project S.A.F.E.

The former victims we interviewed say that convincing someone to get out of an abusive situation is often the hardest step towards recovery.

“Don’t be afraid. Don’t let them scare you to where if you tell someone or if you go to someone that they’ll hurt you or they’ll kill you. To call the police or seek some type of advisement or call a friend,” said Darlene Russell.

“You don’t deserve that. You are worthy of love. And that’s not what love is. That’s not what love looks like,” said Vanessa Bailey.

You can learn more about the Lovelady Center here.

Copyright 2014 WIAT 42 News

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