Nash Helps Abuse Victims Start New Lives
By Mike Scott
The scene was too all too familiar for Mary.
“What is this? Where are you? Can’t you do anything right? Can’t you even keep the house clean? You’re worthless. You are just lucky that I put up with you,”?Tom yells as he comes home from work.
Mary shrinks away, knowing and fearing what comes next. She feels the sting of Tom’s hand across her face, and tumbles backwards. She cries, and runs into the bedroom, locking the door behind her.
Twenty minutes pass. There is a soft knock at the door.
“Mary?” Tom says softly, “I’m sorry. I was just having a bad day. I love you. I really do.”
This scene, though fictional, is all too real for Clark County Domestic Violence Coordinator Sara Nash, who replaced the retiring Bob Walker on March 1. Sara, a native of Lima, Illinois, previously worked for Avenues, and is working on a bachelor’s degree in Human Services.
“Abuse usually starts slowly,” Nash said. “Abusers are usually very charming, very happy people. Abusers are not mean all the time, but they know how to control their victim.”
Abuse takes place in several forms. Emotional abuse is the constant putting down of the victim, such as saying ‘you’re not good enough’.
Mental abuse makes the victim think they are the one with a problem. ‘You’re just crazy’, the abuser might tell them.
Verbal abuse is screaming, yelling and intimidating, often in front of friends or family members.
Financial abuse controls victims by controlling the money, sometime by making them work, or preventing them from working. Victims cannot have access to money without getting it from the abuser.
And, of course, there is physical abuse, which is not alway obvious, and usually blamed on the victim, such as ‘I wouldn’t have hit you if you would have...’.
“Before they get to me, most victims have endured all of these forms of abuse of violence in one form or another, and they just cannot take anymore,” Nash said.
Sara’s mission is to let victims know that what they may be experiencing is not normal, and let them know they deserve better.
“I want to empower then to know that what they are going through is wrong, and help them be strong enough to want to change the situation,” she said.
Usually, Sara gets involved in a domestic dispute when law enforcement calls her.
“We talk and figure out what’s going on,” she said. “We talk about their options. ?I can be a neutral party an offer help to either side. I can help them get connected with DFS, or get counseling if they want it.”
“The first thing we want to do is make sure you’re safe,” she said. Nash can help abuse victims file for court orders of protection, and help them make housing arrangements.
“Most of the time, they (the victims) are the ones who have to leave. I can help them get on with their lives.”
Sadly, many return to their abusers.
“On average it takes seven attempts to leave before they are actually successful, “ Nash said.
For the abusers, there are programs to help them change their behavior. Sara and counselor Mike Beaird facilitate a Batterer’s Group, whose goals are to make abusers aware of their behavior, hold them accountable, and break the cycle of violence. Participation is usually court-ordered.
In Clark County, the Clark County Coalition against Domestic Violence brings together law enforcement, social workers and other together to help prevent domestic violence. Among their outreach activities is an annual poster and essay contest.
“Some kids have seen violence all their lives, and think it’s normal. We hope this lets them know it’s not normal,” she said.
Abuse can happen to everyone. It cuts across all barriers, and while it most common that men abuse women, a surprising number of men are abused and do not report it. And it’s a problem right here in Clark County. On any given week, Nash is called to help between three and ten victims.
If you need help, or know someone who does, you can call Nash anytime at 660-727-1289 or 660-988-1722.
“It’s a huge first step to call,” she said. “I know it’s embarrassing and humiliating, but I want to make sure you’re safe and help you.”