"I knew that it was okay that I needed help and support. It was scary, but I am happy that I knew Safe Horizon was out there to assist me." - Johane, domestic violence survivor.
Johane is a social worker who empowers children, individuals and families affected by domestic violence. She connects them to our Domestic Violence Hotline to help them get emotional support and access Safe Horizon’s other services. To help her clients remember the hotline number, 1-800-621-4673, Johane teaches them to think of the date June 21st that stands for 621 and HOPE for 4673.
Experiencing Domestic Violence
Although Johane works with clients impacted by domestic violence every day, she didn’t recognize the signs of escalating domestic violence in her own relationship – her husband was verbally and emotionally abusive. Johane coped with the abuse by going to work. “Work was my refuge. I worked to cope and to take care of my family.”
Over time, Johane’s husband began to drink heavily and eventually quit his job. When Johane found out that her husband was cheating on her, she filed for divorce.
While separated, the violence escalated. One day, as she and her cousin were leaving the gym, Johane’s husband aggressively approached her. He had contacted her earlier that day demanding they talk. She was scared and trying to call the police when he hit her. “I just saw darkness. The pain was beyond excruciating.” As Johane ran back into the gym, her husband followed and hit her again. Her cousin rushed to her side as soon as she could and helped Johane get back into the gym.
After the attack, Johane called the police and they instructed her to go the closest precinct. Johane was having trouble dealing with the assault she had just endured. She then remembered the number she gave to clients who experienced domestic violence. “June 21st HOPE kept repeating in my mind, ” Johane explains. “I just wanted to hear a comforting voice say that it was going to be okay.”
Finding Comfort, Compassion and Safety
Johane called the Safe Horizon Domestic Violence Hotline and was relieved to hear the kind voice of a hotline advocate. She told the advocate how hurt and humiliated she was. The hotline advocate helped Johane calm down and reassured her that she could get help. “I knew that I would have to go to the police, file the report, and then go to court…But I knew I wasn’t alone, which is what was important to me when I made that call.”
That weekend she stayed at her parent’s home where her parents were watching Johane’s daughter. With her family close by for support, Johane was able to take steps to address her safety concerns. She filed for, and over time obtained, an order of protection as well as custody of her daughter.
Finding Recovery Through Advocacy
Johane’s experience strengthened her desire to advocate for victims of domestic violence and for Safe Horizon. She does this by sharing her story as a member of our Speakers Bureau. Johane was also one of the survivors on a panel at Safe Horizon’s 2015 Domestic Violence Conference. “We have to educate and let people know what Safe Horizon does and the services that are out there for everyone.”