Getting to Know the Women of Project Safe, Part II

We are incredibly excited to partner with a local non-profit group, Project Safe Inc., as part of this year’s Easter Offering. Project Safe works to end domestic violence through crisis intervention, ongoing supportive services, prevention and education, and systems change advocacy. Last week we introduced you to several women in our church work or intern with Project Safe. This week, I asked them to talk more about domestic violence and how to recognize it. This is some of what they shared. What are some things readers should know when about domestic violence? 

Sarah Penfold: Domestic violence is a silent killer. It affects women, men, and children of EVERY race, religion, culture, ethnic background, etc (as both victim and perpetrator), which challenges the stereotype that this is solely a women's issue. Domestic violence has no boundaries. It's a prevalent issue that few talk about and few rally behind; even fewer find the safety to work through their associated pain. It makes people uncomfortable.

Many who identify as a victim of domestic violence suffer this abuse at the hands of those who are supposed to love them the most. This can lead to deep inward shame, isolation, fear, distorted view of self, unjustified guilt, and other immobilizing factors.

Hannah Parker: A statistic that surprised me is that one in four women have experienced domestic violence in their lifetime.  It’s not just the poor, or homeless, or addicts -- it’s our neighbors, teachers, family, and friends.

Samantha Schwalenberg: Domestic Violence is related to sex trafficking, substance abuse, homelessness, rape, murder, child molestation, child abuse, child sexual abuse. 1 in 4 women are victims of domestic violence. The only problem is, some victims DO NOT EVEN KNOW that they are victims.

Sarah: These jarring statistics evoke the questions, "Why are they with their abusers? Why don't they get out?" Three categories help identify core issues but merely scratch the surface when it comes to unpacking the complexities of these relationships:

  • Financial:
    • Where do I start if I have nothing -- no savings, education, job skills?
    • How will I provide for myself or my children?
  • Fear of the Unknown:
    • What will life be like without the abusive partner? (It's easy to believe that it is normal when it's all you've ever known.)
    • Who will love me?
    • Who will help me? (Some abusers isolate victims from their outside support system of family and friends.)
  • Distorted Views of Self Worth:
    • I deserve this.
    • I was made to withstand this "love."
    • I can't make it without this relationship.
    • I am weak.
    • I am worthless.

What are some basic signs of domestic violence and how can family members, friends, or coworkers act on them?

Hannah: PSI identifies that early warning signs of domestic violence are  quick involvement, jealousy, possessiveness, isolation from friends and family, a desire to control most situations, and changes in the victim’s habits, friends or behavior (to avoid angry confrontation).

Samantha: A big sign is when someone begins to isolate themselves from you. If you have a friend/family member who used to be SUPER close to you, but now tends to ignore your calls and texts, fails to show up to events, and begins to pull away, you may have someone who is an abusive relationship. Isolation is a huge sign. Sometimes when a relationship is going way too fast, it is a sign of an abusive relationship. Abusers like CONTROL, they like absolute control and try to get it really fast. Possessiveness is a huge sign as well, when a partner is really jealous, it can be a sign of an abusive relationship.

If a group (like a church or a community group) recognized the needs of victims of domestic violence and wanted to help do something about it, what would their next step be?

Hannah: I would highly recommend they call Project Safe if they were in a position where they felt like they or someone they knew was in danger. We have a 24 hour hotline that can be used by anyone needing help, or seeking information. The hotline number is (706) 543-333. We also have a teen texting line: (706) 765-8019 or email

Samantha: Donating money, time, extra clothes, furniture, shoes, services, books, and such to your local Domestic Violence organization. We all need to work together to fight domestic violence!

Sarah:  Call our Project Safe's business line and ask to speak to the volunteer coordinator, April Byrne. The number is 706.549.0922. She can set groups up with different volunteer opportunities and ways you can help us in the fight to end domestic violence.

For individuals who have a heart for women and children affected by domestic violence and interest/skills in blogging, story telling, and social entrepreneurship please email

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