MERIDIAN, Idaho — 2017 data shows that on a single day in Idaho, more than 500 victims of domestic violence and their children sought safety and services from community-based domestic violence programs-- programs like the Women's Children's Alliance (WCA). They hosted a ceremony for community leaders and advocates today to assist in getting the word on the devastating epidemic of domestic abuse.
“I was threatened. I was verbally and emotionally abused. I was stabbed and I lost my unborn child, but I survived. At one point, I was convinced no one could help me. That there would never be any way to escape him," said Amber, a survivor who spoke at the ceremony.
Experts with the WCA, Nampa Family Justice Center, and Faces of Hope describe domestic abuse as being about power and control-- and that stopping it is about awareness. Treasure valley leaders met over that shared interest today to put an end to the scourge of domestic violence.
“Victims are mourned for by an entire community," said Mayor Tammy de Weerd, City of Meridian.
"Safety in your own home," Mayor David Bieter, City of Boise, added, "there is just nothing more fundamental."
To help effect change, each and every mayor in Ada County officially proclaimed October as Domestic Violence Awareness month in their community. Mayor Debbie Kling, City of Nampa, was also present to proclaim the month for her community.
The CDC reports that 1 in 4 women and 1 in 7 men have experienced severe physical violence by an intimate partner in their lifetimes— and a reported 5,284 calls were made for service for domestic violence and sexual assault in Ada County last year.
“You feel shameful, you feel humiliated, you feel, like how could you even allow somebody to do that to you?" said Amber.
Amber and her family are survivors of domestic violence by a partner.
“He was like Dr. Jekyll, and Mr. Hyde, and I was the star of his horror show," said Amber.
She said it started with small acts of control, like paying all her bills and constantly coming by the law office, where she worked while enrolled in school at Boise State. Eventually, she said, things got violent.
“I reached into the car and he started dragging me with the car, um, my boss came running out and confronted him on it. After that, I quit. I felt really embarrassed— kind of ashamed. Which… then I had no financial income," said Amber.
Amber describes coming to the WCA's RAP group— a weekly support group for women survivors of abuse— as a moment of peace for her.
“Knowing I could come to a place where I wouldn’t be judged, where I could talk about what I was feeling, and sharing with others living the same horror that I was.”
Five years later, Amber says she’s doing better than ever.
“It’s selfishly kind of freeing to be able to say it, and… not be afraid of it anymore." She added: "There is help. There is hope."
If you're reading this now and need to hear it, Amber said she would like to remind you: you’re not alone.
“Healing for me, means finding all the pieces and putting them back together again. It means learning to forgive yourself, and learning to believe in yourself again.”
If you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship or is exhibiting warning signs, please reach out to the confidential Domestic Abuse Hotline at (208) 343-7025 to speak with trained client advocates.