The day Gora ran from her home, she was petrified her abuser would find out what she was doing, but she was single-minded about survival.
She’d planned her escape for a week, and she was protecting not only herself but her beloved pet from someone whose abuse had moved from verbal one-upmanship to choking, hitting and hair-pulling over the course of an 18-year relationship.
“I thought it was going to get better, and it didn’t,” Gora told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution as she looked back on the development of that violence over the course of the relationship.
Gora, who’s name has been changed to protect her privacy, didn’t have much close family, but after stints in three shelters in separate cities, she landed with a family member who kept her pet for her. She traveled on from there, putting miles between herself and her abuser. She eventually sold the vehicle she’d been driving and slipped into Atlanta by bus.
At yet another shelter, an advocate let her know about transitional housing in another part of the state, and Gora stayed for a year while she took classes that helped her transition to independence.
“I did all the resources offered to me, which was a good thing,” she told the AJC. “I started seeing a counselor, and that started making me feel better because I didn’t know who I was. I had to get back to being me. He stole a lot from my brain as far as confidence and the real me.”
October is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month, and Gora’s narrative highlights an opportunity to reflect on a dynamic one local expert says communities can influence by refusing to accept.
Support at the ready
Community support is critical for those experiencing intimate parter violence (IPV), according to Ayonna Johnson, director of legal services for the Decatur-based Women’s Resource Center to End Domestic Violence. The public, she said, can take steps to make the dynamic nonpermissible.
“It requires a collective response,” she said.
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