On March 1, 2017, Violet did the second bravest thing she’s ever done. She stood up in front of 400 people at the 10th Annual Blue Breakfast to tell the story of THE bravest thing she’s ever done – leave her abuser. Her amazing story of her journey from victim to survivor to thriver will most likely bring you to tears. It is impossible for us to be more proud of her and grateful to you for making her success possible.
*Please be advised she recounts some very violent incidents and gruesome injuries.
“Good morning, everyone! Thank you so much for being here. The tears I’ll be crying today are tears of joy, so please have some patience with me as I go through this. Today I have the privilege and the honor to tell you how much Coburn Place Safe Haven means to me.”
“Domestic violence can happen to anyone. I didn’t decide to marry an abusive man. It happened gradually over the years. Each time was different, and each time I would make excuses to myself like he didn’t really mean that. I made those excuses until I was dragged down the hallway by my throat, slammed into a bathtub and as the curtain was pulling closed, he said he was going to kill me. My throat was squeezed so hard that I couldn’t talk for two weeks. My esophagus had been fractured and my eyes were bloodshot red. I spent every day after that day walking on eggshells, not sleeping through the nights and afraid of my own shadow. Being a Christian woman, I felt that it was my duty to stand by him. To pray him through, to do everything that I could to fix my marriage.”
“When I came to Coburn Place three years ago, I was a broken woman – physically, emotionally and spiritually. My ankle had been broken in two places. My teeth had been knocked out, and I was left with PTSD. My eye had been burned so bad that it affected my vision. My stress level had gotten so high that I ended up with acid reflux and would throw up blood. It took my six months to sleep through the night at Coburn Place and another six months to take part in the programs that Coburn Place had to offer.”
“Through the individual therapy once a week and the group therapy twice a week, I began to be able to look people in the eye. During one of our group therapy sessions, we were asked, ‘Who are you – outside of being a mother, outside of your job or your church – who are you?’ I really didn’t know at that point.”
“That’s when my journey to wholeness really began.”
“The exercises done in each therapy session was a critical element in my living, not just existing, as well as returning to society healthy and whole. After months of soul searching, meditation and prayer, we were asked at another group session to find a word that described who we are now. I chose the word ‘irrepressible’, which means impossible to repress, restrain or control.”
“Along with the therapy three times a week, Coburn gave me an advocate. My advocate went above and beyond the description of an advocate. I really cannot say enough about Ms. Jacqueline Willett. She truly cares about physical, spiritual and emotional life, even though my children are grown and have children of their own, she cares for them just as much. She can also be tough. When I want to get into my fears and hide my light so that I wouldn’t be seen, she made sure that I had bus passes to get to my appointments, to get to school, to get to work, until I could pay for them myself.”
“Learning to ride the IndyGo bus line was one of the hardest challenges I faced. Having PTSD made it almost impossible and dealing with the public, particularly people with no boundaries, was like – I can’t even describe it – it took skills that I didn’t even have at the time. After spraying myself with my own mace a couple of times (laughter), I learned that if you have headphones in, people won’t bother you as much and most important, walk to your bus stop with a purpose.”
“Even though there were flyers all over the building with different events and resources, Ms. Jacqueline understood that some days, all you can do is just get through the day. She would make it a point to come to me and say, ‘Gleaners will be here today at such and such time. I know how much you enjoy your fresh fruits and vegetables.’ Or ‘We’re going to Thrifty Threads in the morning at 9:30 sharp, emphasis on the sharp, you can get you some new slacks for your Dress for Success meeting.’”
When she noticed that I wasn’t participating or socializing as much as I used to, well, she was going to know the reason why. My teeth that had been broken at the gum line were so infected that the infection was spreading to my other teeth. The pain was becoming so unbearable that I wanted to pull them out myself. When Ms. Jacqueline learned that, she found an organization called ‘Give Back a Smile’. After filling out an application and with her help writing an essay, I was approved and assigned a dentist, Dr. Gerald M. Lande in Carmel, Indiana. (smiles at him in the audience) There was no guarantee that he would be able to work on my teeth but with fingers crossed, I went to the consultation embarrassed and in so much pain that I said to myself, “That if he can’t help me, I’m going to pull these teeth out myself. Dr. Lande was supposed to just look at my teeth and see if he could possible restore my smile. He took one look and said, ‘You were hit pretty hard and you’ve waited so long that the infection is spreading to your other teeth. Something is going to have to be done today before I can even work on your teeth. I’m going to have to clean all this out, put antibiotics inside the teeth and then we can go from there. In one day I had three root canals. (gasps from the audience) Another day, major oral surgery. Without all the gory details, three months later, I got my smile back. Thank you, Dr. Lande!
“Another resource Coburn connected me with was Dress for Success and I went there for their suit program, where they give you two suits for interviewing and three causal pieces for work uniforms. And they also have program called ‘Going Places’ where I was able to get the tools I need to do the interviews and different workplace etiquette and things like that.”
“I also was a part of the 16-week program through The Julian Center called ‘Getting Ahead, Bridges out of Poverty’. While in the program, I was encouraged to go back to school. And that’s when I went to Ms. Shawnta Beverly. She helped me with the application process. She helped me fill out all my scholarship applications and work on my essays. Once I took my assessment with Ivy Tech, I was accepted into the paralegal program. I am now a Bowen Scholar. Woo hoo! (applause) I’m also a member of the National Society of Leadership and Success Honor Society, and I made the Dean’s List, with a 3.5 GPA. Thank you.” (laughs)
“Thanks to Coburn Place, I am truly living today. (standing ovation) Thank you so much. Thank you for coming today and for your time.”
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Violet with her Advocate, Jacqueline