Dara Gullette said it’s impossible for someone to know the struggles of being in an abusive relationship unless they’ve been in one themselves.
“People on the outside looking in really don’t understand how hard it is to get out of an abusive relationship,” she said, “but I’ve been there.”
Gullette, an advocate and office manager at the Hillsboro Alternatives to Violence Center, said she began volunteering with the AVC after experiencing domestic violence early in life – and having that experience helps her relate with other victims on a deep level.
“I was a victim of domestic violence in high school,” she said. “I was in an abusive teen dating relationship… so I volunteered for the agency for about three or four years, just to build up my resume, and they ended up offering me a job.”
The Alternatives to Violence Center has facilities in both Hillsboro and Wilmington that provide crisis intervention and support for victims of domestic, dating, child, adult, sexual and stalking violence. Both facilities offer a variety of services for victims and their families, including shelter, counseling services, support groups, transportation, court advocacy and hospital company if needed.
Gullette said the Wilmington AVC now has a forensic center and exam room for victims of rape, and is currently working on developing a pediatric facility.
In addition, Gullette said, both centers provide adult anger management courses and men’s domestic violence education for court-ordered treatment.
The Hillsboro AVC hosts a variety of events as well, including the upcoming Tea for Tweens, Teens and Queens, an event focused on spotting abuse in relationships. It will be held Saturday, April 22 from 9-11:30 a.m. at the Hillsboro Elementary Cafeteria. Females ages 11 and up will participate in activities focused on dating and sexual violence awareness, enjoy a free brunch and have opportunities to get their hair and nails done, receive massages and participate in crafts.
The event is sponsored in part by The Cassner Foundation and the Hillsboro Fraternal Order of Eagles.
“It’s really important to educate the females in our community about the warning signs of potential dating abusers, and to be able to set up boundaries,” Gullette said.
For more information on Alternatives to Violence, or to get involved, reach out to the Hillsboro AVC by calling 937-393-8118. The Hillsboro facility is located at 938 W. Main St.
The Wilmington AVC is located at 94 N. South St., third floor, suite B, and can be reached by calling 937-383-3285.
Reach David Wright at 937-402-2570, or on Twitter @DavidWrighter.