PLANO, Texas (CBS 11 NEWS) – Domestic violence, with its complicated causes and immunity to quick fixes, leaves many advocates focusing on the survivors.
“I was so convinced that I couldn’t do it on my own as a single mother,” says 27-year-old Jenna, “and that was a large part of why I tried to stay for so long.”
It took Jenna two years to escape an abusive marriage and she says help from a local shelter was critical. But, then came the daunting question of ‘what’s next?’ She says Emily’s Place, a Plano non-profit, was God’s answer. “I know without a doubt, that I’m here, because of God.”
Jenna and her 19-month old son have lived in the long term transitional care home since March.
“They haven’t been allowed to work, they’ve had so much control from the abuser, they need to learn how to do so many things,” says Emily’s Place Executive Director Lori Conley. She says Emily’s Place works to break the cycle of domestic abuse by helping victims who get out, stay out.
“So many times, if they don’t have a place to go, they’re going to go back to the abuser or they’re going to become homeless,” says Conley, “so knowing that Emily’s place is going to give them a roof over their head, provide food and shelter for them is the first step in the healing process.”
According to Conley, Emily’s Place fields hundreds of calls each year from woman needing help. As much as they’d like to, they can’t help them all. But, thanks to generous support in the community, in a few months, they will be able to help more survivors. Construction is currently underway on a 5400 square foot residential center that will more than double their current capacity and provide group home style housing for 28-30 clients. Proceeds from Texas Wild Tennis Tournaments help provide support for Emily’s Place programs.
“I’m excited that we’re able to come alongside the shelters and offer the long term care for the women and their children,” says Conley.
And Jenna adds that the extra time is needed. “The shelters, their limits are 30 to 60 days, which realistically, that’s not enough time for a woman who’s been in an abusive relationship to recover. At Emily’s Place you get two years.”
During that time, clients learn how to parent, budget, avoid bad relationships and be happy.
“There’s things I haven’t felt in a long time – joy, hope – that I get to experience now,” says Jenna, with tears filling her bright blue-green eyes. “This is the start of my life, this is where life begins for me and my son.”
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