I Support Community Blog
I went to Rolla Missouri to film the first charity on I Support Community. It’s a small, rural town about an hour and a half from St. Louis through a beautiful, rolling countryside. The Russell House is a shelter for victims of domestic violence. While I was driving, I remember wondering if a battered woman ever enjoys or even sees her surroundings.
Being a battered women’s shelter, the Russell House has no address and is hidden from view.
If you didn’t know it was there, you would never see it. When I got there, the thing that struck me most was a sense of hope. You feel it as soon as you walk through the painted door and are greeted by a welcoming staff.
Being there was very emotional. To know that elderly women, young women, professional women and women like me have all walked through that door. Being in the hallways where they are and have been. It was wrenching to hear their stories; to hear about the physical abuse. But not nearly as hard as the emotional abuse. I learned that on average it takes a woman seven times to leave her abuser for good. Seven times! I became immediately aware that I was operating under a wishful and naïve assumption that women left the shelter to a better place – certainly not to return to their abusive home. What a vicious cycle. Unimaginable.
Being a mom of three, the highchairs, kid’s toys, baby mittens and clothes, just broke my heart. Sharon, the house’s Director, refers to the kids as secondary victims. It’s easy to forget about the kids when you think of a battered women shelter, but most have children with them. I cannot even begin to imagine.
As you go about your day, think about the Russell House and organizations like it. They are all around us.