It’s Never Too Late to Start Living

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month.

In this month, we remember those we lost to domestic violence, and we think of the work we need to do to save the next survivors. For many of people, October is a time to reflect on what’s at stake when people decide to leave violent situations, and all the good that can happen when we provide support to people attempting to leave dangerous relationships. It’s also a great time to remind ourselves that it’s never too late to leave a toxic relationship—and it’s never too late to start living your best life.   

It’s Not Too Late: Making a Change at 70

Lily is now in her 70s. She only recently left her marriage after 53 years. For 35 of those years, she was physically and sexually abused by her husband. Lily’s abuser didn’t want her working, and he let her know it. To him, her being away from his control or even having her own money was a challenge and a threat. He would often show up at her job and simply stare at her, trying whatever he could to provoke a reaction. His constant visits and intimidation eventually caused enough trouble that Lily was fired—she was seen as being unprofessional.

Lily’s abuser would turn every part of her day into an opportunity to exert more power over her. As the violence escalated, Lily knew she had to try something. She pressed charges against him after a particularly violent outburst, but he was able to get the charges reduced. Even after escaping criminal charges, he would threaten and physically intimidate her, withhold food, and even refuse to speak to her—all to reinforce his control over every aspect of her life.

Making the Change a Reality

It was decades in the making, but once Lily felt confident enough to leave, things happened quickly. She contacted TAP Domestic Violence Services (DVS) and within a month she was in a studio apartment of her own. She faced a dizzying list of challenges, from safely getting her belongings from her abuser who was still trying to intimidate her, to needing to find a new bed frame and mattress so she didn’t have to sleep in a recliner. DVS provided many donated items to help turn her new, empty apartment into her home. She now describes her life as “peaceful, not being controlled or living in oppression,” and says she feels “free in spirit.”

Leaving a violent relationship safely and beginning to heal takes a true support network. In Lily’s case, the speed with which she left needed a number of things in place to work. Lily’s bravery and decisiveness were the key ingredients. They were a product of TAP being able to connect her immediately with resources that made that quick transition possible. Donated furniture and household goods were also key: DVS was able to immediately provide furniture. That meant Lily didn’t move into what felt like an empty cell, but a new home.

Making the Difference

DVS staff also worked hard to make sure Lily had a plan. They worked on developing and constantly updating her safety plan, finding a new job, and getting her finances in order. Without that support, these tasks would have seemed impossible. There are so many ways the community can help make the choice to leave safer and less intimidating for survivors. From donated household goods, to volunteer therapists who provide sessions to clients for free, to community fundraisers, the work DVS staff do with survivors depends on the whole community.

Meanwhile, Lily has found that with a little help and the passing of time, life starts to feel normal again. That’s why the staff of TAP Domestic Violence Services come to work every day. They want to be part of that journey. They want to support each step, and witness the strength, growth, determination, and hope that survivors show along the way.

This year, we challenge you to find a way to support survivors of domestic violence and their families—whether it’s through raising awareness, donating money, new or gently used household goods, or connecting people to resources, we hope you’ll join us in trying to make a difference.

If You Need Help

TAP Domestic Violence Services helps those suffering from abuse. If your intimate partner is abusive to you, your children, or someone else in the household, or if someone you know is being abused, we can help with the following:

  • Emergency assistance and emergency transportation
  • Emergency relocation assistance
  • 24/7 Emergency Hotline
  • Crisis intervention
  • Legal advocacy
  • Court preparation and accompaniment
  • Support group
  • Education and outreach programs for the community

Call or text (540) 580‑0775. A crisis advocate is available evenings, nights, weekends, and holidays at the emergency number.

Our daytime telephone number is (540) 283‑4813.

Hearing-impaired persons can contact us using Virginia Relay. Just dial 7-1-1 and give the Virginia Relay Communications Assistant the number you need to reach.