End Domestic Violence : #PassItOn Charleston

It’s HERE! It’s FINALLY HERE!! Help the YWCA Charleston raise $10,000 courtesy of The Allstate Foundation.
AND IT’S EASY!!
1. Log-on to http://www.purplepurse.com
2. Enter the registration code 01295 & your zip code
3. #PassItOn to EVERYONE YOU KNOW!

YOU CAN LOG ON EVERYDAY OR MULTIPLE TIMES PER DAY!!! To learn more about how you can help and to see who is on board to #PassItOn be sure to follow YWCA Charleston on Twitter and on Facebook!

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The YWCA Charleston has been selected to participate in The Allstate Foundation’s Purple Purse program this year! Only 30 YWCA associations were selected to participate across the U.S. This October, Purple Purse will be even bigger, since we’ve more than doubled the number of YWCA partners and raised the total donation goal to $350,000 for the national network of YWCAs! With your help in 2013, Purple Purse will get more people talking about domestic violence than ever before.

Here’s how the program will work: during Domestic Violence Awareness Month this October, custom-designed purple purses will be distributed with information cards inside, driving people to PurplePurse.com so they can arm themselves with tools to spread the word about domestic violence. The goal is to pass along each purple purse to family and friends throughout the country, sparking life-changing conversations along the way. In addition, digital purses can also be passed to raise money and awareness at Facebook.com/PurplePurse and on PurplePurse.com.

As one of 30 local YWCAs selected, we have received 10 physical purses to pass throughout our community. Starting September 23 and continuing throughout October, every time our purple purse is checked in at PurplePurse.com, The Allstate Foundation will donate $5 to our local YWCA, giving our organization funding to support our critical programs aimed at helping domestic violence survivors and stopping the cycle of abuse.

If we’re able to pass our purses a total of 1,000 times, we’ll double our donation and our YWCA will earn a total of $10,000.

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Playing Victim in the Story of Your Life

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VICTIM: a person harmed, injured, or killed as a result of a crime, accident, or other event or action.  synonyms: sufferer, injured party, casualty; fatality, loss; loser “a victim of crime”

 

While there are times in our lives that we have the power to manipulate the outcomes of our circumstances, there are also times where we find ourselves in situations that truly are out of our control.

Things happen in our life that, in every sense of the description, classifies us as a victim. In that moment, you are free to it for a time.

Our society tells us that we are never to be weak, to consider ourselves fragile—but the truth is there are times when we are. Sometimes, this state of being allows us to deal and heal more completely. We can assess our circumstances for what they are, how it makes us feel, how it came to be and how to process it—and perhaps, in some instances, how we might be able to avoid it in the future.

It is not whether we are the recipient of some adverse action in our lives, because we all will be at some point, but the most important thing is to work diligently not to remain with the “victim” mentality. There is power in words. We are what we think. Even though you might not be able to choose what happened to you, you can choose what you do with it going forward. Moving from the label of “victim” to “survivor” can mean the difference in remaining stagnant and desperate in our emotions and genuine healing and hope.  Being a victim is not a choice, but playing one is—only you can change the starring role of your life.

If you find yourself in a role of “victim”—just remember, there are times we can’t control things that happen to us, but it’s not your circumstances that shape you; it’s how you react to your circumstances.

 Rise above. Be more.

Fear In The Dark

…this blog post was taken from Proverbs 31 Ministries‘ daily e-newsletter. I found it to be appropriate in timing and relevant to the topic. I hope that it touches your heart and mind like it did mine. If you’re not already subscribed to receive the daily devotional encouragement from the ministry, I urge you do to so.

By: Wendy Blight

“… all that night the LORD drove the sea back with a strong east wind and turned it into dry land.” Exodus 14:21b (NIV)

God seemed distant and I felt completely alone after I was physically and sexually assaulted at knifepoint in my early 20s. For years after the attack, I lived cocooned in a prison of despair and hopelessness, fear hounding me. Finally, after years of searching for help and believing there was nowhere else to turn, I fell on my knees before God and poured out my tears, anger and questions to Him.

During that very dark time, God lead me to the story of the Israelites’ escape from slavery in Egypt. Initially, Pharaoh agreed to let God’s people go, but soon after they left, Pharaoh changed his mind. He pursued them with 600 of his best chariots and terrified the Israelites. Can you imagine their fear?

They cried out to their leader, Moses. Even though Moses reminded the people of God’s promise that He would deliver them, the circumstances barreling toward them said otherwise. Their reality included Pharaoh’s finest soldiers hot on their heels, and the colossal Red Sea blocking their escape. God’s people had no idea the miracle awaiting them.

When they reached the Red Sea, Moses stretched his hand over the water. Scripture says, “… all that night the LORD drove the sea back with a strong east wind and turned it into dry land” (Exodus 14:21b). Because it was dark, the Israelites couldn’t quite see the full picture of what God was doing.

In the black of night, the Lord tirelessly worked on behalf of His children to deliver them, just as He had promised.

It was as if the words of this story leapt off the pages of Scripture and into my desolate heart. Although the Israelites could not see or hear God, He was moving in the midst of their darkness. I too could not “see” or “feel” God, but He was at work around me in invisible ways—present and active on my behalf to carry me through.

The dark is a very scary place to be. Whether it’s the darkness of our fears or circumstances pressing in, we have two choices as to how to respond. We can take matters into our own hands, turning to drugs or alcohol to numb the pain, seeking advice or reading the latest self-help book, never knowing if any of them is the way to healing and wholeness. Or we can look to God. We can pray and open His Word, knowing He guarantees healing and wholeness.

For years I tried the first approach to deal with my darkness. Yet each attempt to help myself failed. It was only when I turned to God, crying out for His help, that things started to change.

Would you like to experience God’s help for yourself? Ask. The Lord promises, “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart” (Jeremiah 29:13 NIV). Like He was for the Israelites, God is there for us. And He is always working on our behalf, even when we can’t see or feel Him.

Today, if you are in the darkness … if your circumstances are threatening to consume you … if you feel utterly defeated … seek the Lord. Ask Him to rescue you and remember this, He is there … parting your “Red Sea.”

Dear Heavenly Father, it’s so difficult to walk through darkness. You feel so far away. I feel so alone. Thank You for the promise that You will never leave me or forsake me, and that there is nothing in all creation that will ever separate me from the love I have in You and in Your Son. Walk ever so closely with me during this darkness, Lord. Speak to me. Give me hope. In Jesus’ Name, amen.

Marie’s Story : “…it would never happen to me”

It was January 19th, 2012 and I remember looking at the clock at about 11:30pm because I was in bed and rolling over to sleep with our 4-year-old and 17 month old. I was tired of arguing so I told their father I was going lie down and go to sleep. He got mad because I didn’t want to listen to what he was saying, after two straight days of fighting and me asking him to leave multiple times. He thought I was cheating on him. The issue couldn’t have just been that I wasn’t happy, he automatically thought there was someone else and had been flipping out about it. I truly believe he was dealing with a lot of issues he never grew out of. He said, “You know what? No you’re not.” He grabbed the pillow from underneath my head, flipped out his pocketknife and cut the pillow all the way down the middle. He kind of paced around the bedroom for a few minutes, had taken his shirt off and said, “This is about to get REAL ugly now,” and held his knife to his chest. I started screaming, wanting him to stop. I just stared at him and watched him run the knife across the left side of his chest. I grabbed both the girls, who were still asleep, and I told him that I wasn’t watching him do this and I was going to just leave. He stood against my legs that were swung over the bed and told me that I wasn’t leaving. I rose up with the girls in my arms and tried to leave again. He yelled at me, and tried to grab one of the girls from my arms and I was pulling her back to me. He wasn’t taking the girls with his attitude, and especially with this crazy stuff he was doing. Lord only knows what he took to make him act like this. He walked over to the bedroom closet and started cutting on his chest about 3 or 4 more times, walked back over in front of me, and tried to get my oldest daughter’s attention. He was pointing to his chest saying, “Look at what mommy did to daddy… mommy cut me!” Of course she didn’t see what had just happened because she had been half asleep, but she looked up at me and asked why I cut him. I looked at him in disbelief and said was trying to explain that I didn’t do that. I tried to rise up again with the girls to leave.

He pushed apart my legs, with the girls still in my arms, and climbed on the bed over top of me. Everything was happening so fast, and the first thing that ran through my mind was that he was going to rape me, and I started screaming. Instead, he took one of his hands and pushed it down hard on my mouth. At first I didn’t know what he was doing, I thought he was trying to get me to shut up. I couldn’t breathe, and was frantically trying to breathe through my nose. He must have seen how hard I was trying. I saw him look at it, and then he used his other hand to pinch my nose closed. My eyes widened because I couldn’t believe what he was doing. I started panicking and kicking my legs. He told me he was going to smash my face in. After just about 5-10 seconds of trying to suffocate me on the bed, he let go. I started screaming for his 13-year-old daughter in the next room, lying on the bed and banging on the wall. I knew she could hear me screaming even though she was pretending to be asleep. I didn’t have a phone in the bedroom to call 911, she was my only hope. He got off the bed, picked my legs up from underneath my knees and pulled me to the edge of the bed, me still holding onto the girls. I just couldn’t bring myself to let go of them for some reason. I was afraid he was going to take them. You hear all the time of children being kidnapped by a deranged parent. It was all I could think of besides trying to figure out how I was going to get us out of this room.

I kicked him in the ribs, trying to push him away. He pulled me off of the bed by my legs and the girls came down with me. We were all three screaming at this point. He put his hand over my mouth and told me that I’d better stop screaming. Somehow he wrestled me onto my stomach in the floor. My oldest was able to escape and ran in front of me to the other side of the bed. She had blood from my mouth on her shirt. My 17 month old was still in my arms and wedged in my arms between myself and the bed. He sat on the back of my legs, used one hand to pull my neck backward towards him and used his other hand to shove two fingers down my throat. I couldn’t move other than kicking my feet on the floor to make noise with what little bit of room I had. I couldn’t breathe, so the only thing I thought to do was to bite his fingers as hard as I could and hope that he let go. He yelled that I broke his fingers, stood up and walked out of the bedroom and left us just lying there. He forced me in the bathroom to clean myself up. I was scared to leave the bedroom. I thought it was a trick. I picked up the baby and grabbed the hand of my oldest. I was really scared, but just doing whatever he wanted me to do so that he wouldn’t keep hurting me. I spat out blood from my busted lip in the bathroom sink. He brought a wet towel in the bathroom so that I could clean my face off. I walked out, still holding onto the girls, and into the kitchen.

He starting to get really upset and realized what he’d done. He was saying things like, “I can’t live with myself knowing what I did to you. Please go in the bedroom and get my coat, I can’t walk in there. I can’t go back in there. I can’t go back in that room. I can’t come back in this house after what I’ve done. Now I’ll NEVER be able to get you back, I’ll never see my kids, I’ll never have anything. I can’t believe this. I swore to myself I’d never do this again. (Again?) I just want you to call the law so that they can come. I’ll be waiting for them out in the driveway. Just call them, please.”

He was acting like if the police wasn’t going to come and kill him, he was going to do it himself. I was getting really scared and just hoped that he’d leave. I told him that everything was going to be okay if he just got in his car and drove away. I told him that he’d make it out, he could run, he would just have to get in the car and drive. He started panicking, not really sure of what to do. He took all the keys from his ring that were mine, including his car keys, and slid them across the kitchen floor to me along with his white Harley Davidson pocket knife. He emptied out his wallet onto the stove, opened the front door, sat on the step and started smoking a cigarette.

He turned and looked at me and said that all he wanted was closure. “I just need a name, please tell me. Who is it? Just tell me a name and I’ll leave.” I assured him that I wasn’t cheating on him, and he got mad because I wouldn’t let him look through my Facebook account. The one and only reason I denied for him to look through my things was because I had told him two days prior that our relationship was over. For the past five years he had complete control over me, alienated me from all of my friends and would not ever allow me to go do anything on my own. He was so judgmental and paranoid that everyone had some alternative motive under their sleeve. He was dependent on pain medication, and would blow up and become irate anytime he didn’t have it. He was verbally and emotionally abusive to me in front of my children. There were a few good times in our relationship, but I never felt completely safe or loved. I felt more like his property. I had tried many times in the past to get him to leave, and he never would. Eventually, I just gave up and decided that it was easier to deal with feeling unworthy than the stress of getting him out of the house. I was apparently never going to get out of this relationship. Because of the way that he’d made me feel for so long, I had started to completely withdraw myself from him. I was distant and cold. I had started to become a completely different person myself, always paranoid and nervous. I had enough. I refused to let my children grow up in this environment.

He walked back in the house and shut the door. “You’re going to pull it up,” he said. He stormed through the kitchen to the living room, and I backed into the hallway with the baby. My oldest had since made her way into the living room and was huddling with his other daughter. He made the 13-year-old grab the laptop and he turns it on. He made me sit down in the floor by the laptop and sign on. Everything that happened after this was one huge blur. I wasn’t signing on fast enough so he grabbed my hair from the scalp with both hands and bashed my head into the laminate hardwood flooring about fifteen times. I felt two or three punches to my head while I was on the floor. I was still holding my baby. He let me sit back up to try to sign on. By this time, I was so nervous that I couldn’t even think, and my hands were shaking so bad that I couldn’t type. He must have grabbed his Harley Davidson knife from the kitchen floor on the way back through the house, because he pulled it out of his pocket and showed me that he had it. He started turning all the lights off in the house. I asked him repeatedly to please let me have the knife and I would do whatever he wanted me to do. He reached into the inside of his Carhartt coat and said, “This knife is the least of your worries.” I was afraid he had a gun. He was telling me things like, “I’ll carve your f***ing face off, and your nose and ears. I will mangle all your fingers so that you can’t do a god**mn thing. I bet you’d look real nice with a teardrop scar going down the side of your face. You’ll look real sexy for your new boyfriend when I do all that. I swear I’ll snap your f***ing neck.” He had the knife against my forehead. I had my head smashed in the floor again multiple times. All three kids were screaming. He opened the knife back up and was coming toward me. At one point during this he told his 13-year-old that if she called the cops behind his back, she was going to be in big trouble.

He kept showing and threatening the knife and I finally got my password typed in. As soon as I hit ‘Enter’ I jumped up, basically threw the baby to his daughter, and tried to run. I was hoping and praying that she was smart enough to take the girls and run out the door closest to them. I felt horrible for leaving the kids and trying to save myself, but I was relying on her help. I knew he would follow me instead. The only thing I could do to get him out of my way was to try to knock him down. I elbowed him in the face. He was stronger than me, and tackled me to the ground right where I stood. He sat on my back and put me in a headlock. He was pushing my head so close to the floor that I couldn’t see and he was strangling me again. I saw pools of blood in the floor. It was running from down my face, and I just knew that I looked destroyed. I told him that he was making me bleed to death and that he wouldn’t get out of me what he wanted if I died. He took his shirt off and wrapped it around my head. While trying to get me to flip through my Facebook page he was putting the knife blade to my wrists and my neck, the tip against my left side and the back of my left thigh. At one point I heard him say he was going to f***ing kill me. I begged for the girls to go outside so he could just deal with me and he refused. No one was going anywhere.

I had been stalling by trying to reason with him so that I could slowly get my feet underneath me. All of a sudden I jumped up and ran around behind him to the kitchen, hoping to give his daughter another chance to get everyone outside. I wanted to find something to hit him, knock him down or stab him or something. He found me and I was tackled to the ground again. He kicked me, hard, once in the back and in the ribs. He says, “I’ve got a broken finger, now you’ve got a broken rib.” He turned on the water in the kitchen sink and started spraying me with the hose. He drug me from the kitchen floor and into the bathroom. He pushed me down in the bathtub and started spraying me with the shower head. Now is he going to drown me? He told me to rinse myself off. While I was fully clothed and sitting under the water, he came in the bathroom with a glass of orange juice and swallowed the engagement ring I’d been wearing. He grabbed towels and started cleaning up all of my blood from the hallway, living room and kitchen floor. I heard banging and yelling at the door. Lasers were shining around and he was yelling for the police to shoot him. About five Kanawha County Deputies ran through the kitchen and got him on the ground. Once I saw they had him under control, I ran out of the bathroom and in the living room to make sure that the kids were okay.

My house looked like a murder scene. My blood covered everything and was spattered on all the surrounding walls. An ambulance took me to the hospital, and I got six staples on the crown of my head from being punched. Swelling and bruises covered my face where I was slammed into the floor, and there were multiple bruises all over my body from being slammed in the floor and trying to fight him off me. My lip was busted and bruised. For two days, even water burned the raw spots in the back of my throat from where his fingers were. I had cuts from where he held the knife to my wrists that are now small scars. The tops of my feet were bruised from kicking the floor in a suffocated panic. The posts of my earrings were bent in both ears from being bashed on the floor, and I had a puncture on the back of my ear from the post of an earring. Twenty-four hours from having staples I was allowed to shower. I pulled gobs of hair from the matted, bloody tangles. Every night for a month, I was forced to remember because of the bruising all over my head and raw spots where my hair was pulled out. It hurt to even lay on a pillow. I missed two weeks of work due to severe bruising.

If the police didn’t show up when they did I was sure that I was going to die. What seemed like a whole night was only just over an hour. I just knew that I wasn’t going to come out of that house alive. All I could do was catch glimpses of my kids and I pray to God. I saw a look on his face when I was sitting in the dark that I never imagined I’d see. He was staring right through me almost like he wasn’t even there. I couldn’t understand why he was so determined. I was heartbroken that our children watched just about every second of him torturing me. He didn’t even care that his children were in my arms while he was trying to suffocate me or throw me to the floor. It makes me sick to my stomach. Currently he is in jail for malicious assault, two domestic violence charges, and an unlawful restraint charge. He has served almost two years’ time and faces up to 10 more. If he ever has another domestic violence charge it will be a felony. His daughter snuck and called 911 that night against his orders, and hid her cell phone underneath her so that the operator could GPS our location.

If I would have recognized any signs before this, I would have left way before that point. I was young and unaware of all the options I had, places I could go, or people I could turn to for help. I pray that all women become aware of what is out there.

I used to see these stories on the news and thank the Lord that it would never happen to me. It’s been almost two years and, even though I’m still mentally healing, my life could not be better. My kids and I have a wonderful man in our lives that continuously makes us feel important and loved, and supports me both morally and emotionally. I have left work to return to school, and I am working to graduate with a nursing degree. We attend church regularly. I have promised myself to never let anyone tell me that I can’t be who I want to be. I can finally follow my dreams.

Picking the Right Partner

What is a healthy relationship? What does it look like? So many people have so many different opinions and perspectives.

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Oftentimes relationships require us to modify certain personality characteristics like thinking of another above ourselves or picking up the daily trail of dirty clothes left in the living room. There are certain character flaws that we can choose to modify when trying to woo a special someone—heck, we might even change our hair or lose a few pounds. But healthy relationships will never require you to sacrifice who you are or what you believe.

In fact, your significant other should be actively seeking to support you, in all that you are—your values, your hobbies—while the two of you might not share exact common interests, it is important to be understanding and supportive to one another.

Be careful not to over analyze because of your differences—think your relationship is a failure because you and your partner aren’t following certain “rules” or meeting certain standards? Dr. Phil blows the whistle on 10 of the most common but dangerous relationship myths. These are a few that I particularly struggle with…

MYTH #1: A GREAT RELATIONSHIP DEPENDS ON A GREAT MEETING OF THE MINDS

MYTH #2: A GREAT RELATIONSHIP REQUIRES A GREAT ROMANCE

MYTH #4: A GREAT RELATIONSHIP REQUIRES COMMON INTERESTS THAT BOND YOU TOGETHER FOREVER

MYTH #8: A GREAT RELATIONSHIP CANNOT SURVIVE A FLAWED PARTNER

MYTH #10: YOUR RELATIONSHIP CAN BECOME GREAT ONLY WHEN YOU STRAIGHTEN YOUR PARTNER OUT

 

Ephesians 5:21 tells us that we should be “submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.”

Once you discover your true worth, it’s much easier to determine what you expect in a partner. When others call me picky to insinuate a negative over-critical attitude, I actually take it as a compliment. I certainly am picky. After being involved in enough relationships where I put others above myself at my own expense, finding my equal is what I deserve. It’s what everyone deserves.

Don’t settle. You were made for more.

The Rest of MY Story

I felt it necessary, before you would put your faith and trust in me to understand, empathize and relate to any situation or experience you may have found yourself in regards to domestic violence, it was first important for me to share my story.

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Growing up an only child, there was a sense of entitlement that came along with it. I was the queen—#1—and the apple of my father’s eye. I assumed the role of the equal and was put on a pedestal.  The relationship between my parents was not that of one I would consider healthy—there was a lot of negativity, resentment and anger that brewed between the pair. At the time, I thought I did a good job at ignoring it and focusing my attention on me and how important I was…

The situation at home finally came to a head when they got a divorce when I was 15 years old. Unshaken, I remained at the center of my father’s universe—until he got remarried 3 years later.

At the time, I felt a sense of betrayal; a sense of love-loss; and a real sense of rejection. I was knocked from my place of importance to feel like a throw away. I internalized all of these emotions—and began searching.

My searching led me down a path of destruction—drugs, alcohol, partying and especially destructive, dysfunctional relationships. You see, since I was young, I always had a tendency to be a nurturer…seeking out those who were in need and finding a way to meet those needs. While this characteristic is often viewed as something positive, it can and has, if not reigned in, led to negative dependencies and unhealthy addictions to use this gift to fill a void. Especially in relationships, I felt as if I can meet his needs, then he will want me. He will feel like he needs me and keep me around. I will finally be worthy of love.

Hindsight, this chaos of emotions and unstable mentality is what led me to choose the relationships and romantic partners I did. It started out harmless enough (or so I thought) but as the pain got stronger, the relationships got worse. As one dead-end relationship ended, I searched for a way to fill the love-void and moved into the next dysfunctional one. I found myself in situations where I was being taken advantage of financially, being emotionally abused and even physically assaulted. My self-esteem and self-worth were non-existent and the relationships I stayed in reflected every bit of it.

I was one of the lucky ones. I escaped. But it was ONLY by the grace of God that I was able to do so.

Once I finally stopped running away from the only One who could ever fill my love-void, I was finally able to break free from the lies and destruction—to see my true worth and value in Him.

I am still a work in progress, and my guard is still like Fort Knox, but seeing my blessing in being able to come out the other side has made me a stronger woman, a stronger Christian and a more determined advocate for those who find themselves in the same place I was in.

If you are struggling in finding your value—stop looking to the empty relationships of this world to fill your void. There is only One who can ever love you like you deserve. How much are you worth?

Matthew 10:29-31
Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. But even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.

Still not convinced? Try this…

John 3:16
For God so loved the world that he gave His only begotten Son that whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.

You mean so much to God that He gave His ONLY Son. Stop believing the lies and start believing the Truth. You were made for more.

“Pass It On” for the YWCA of Charleston – Purple Purse 2013

Happy Friday, All!
This post is a bit different from normal, but equally as important, because —

I am honored to announce that I will be directing the Purple Purse Campaign 2013 for the YWCA of Charleston.

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WHAT IS THE PURPLE PURSE CAMPAIGN?

The YWCA of Charleston has been selected to participate in The Allstate Foundation’s Purple Purse program this year! Only 30 YWCA associations were selected to participate across the NATION! (WOW)

This October, Purple Purse will be even bigger, since they’ve more than doubled the number of YWCA partners and raised the total donation goal to $350,000 for the national network of YWCAs! With your help in 2013, Purple Purse will get more people talking about domestic violence than ever before.

Here’s how the program will work: during Domestic Violence Awareness Month this October, custom-designed purple purses will be distributed with information code cards inside, driving people to PurplePurse.com so they can arm themselves with tools to spread the word about domestic violence. The goal is to pass along each purple purse to family and friends throughout the country, sparking life-changing conversations along the way. In addition, digital purses can also be passed to raise money and awareness at Facebook.com/PurplePurse and on PurplePurse.com.

As one of 30 local YWCAs selected, we will receive 10 physical purses to pass throughout our community. Starting September 23 and continuing throughout October, every time our purple purse is checked in at PurplePurse.com, The Allstate Foundation will donate $5 to our local YWCA, giving our organization funding to support our critical programs aimed at helping domestic violence survivors and stopping the cycle of abuse. If we’re able to pass our purses a total of 1,000 times, we’ll double our donation and your YWCA will earn a total of $10,000.

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There will, of course, be more information coming – so be sure to frequently check the YWCA newsletter, website, Facebook pages: YWCA & GNO and Twitter: @ywcacharleston & @gnowv

Let’s “PASS IT ON” to spread the word and END DOMESTIC VIOLENCE!