Friday, June 21, 2019

Billy Long: Helping survivors of domestic abuse

(From Seventh District Congressman Billy Long)

Growing up, Christina Ford considered abusive relationships just a normal part of life.

Seeing her own mother in one, Christina assumed this was something that came along with loving someone. To her, being slapped, hit, pushed down and yelled at was a common theme in relationships. That was until she met her husband, Dana Ford, Missouri State University men’s basketball coach, in college. Having previously been in an abusive relationship, Christina had to learn what a normal relationship was like. Today, she’s happily married with four children.

Although Christina’s story had a happy ending, she understands that’s not the case for many women. 

In the U.S., one in three women are victims of domestic violence. In 2017, there were 45,000 domestic violence incidents reported in Missouri. In the same year, Greene County had nearly 4,000 reported, which made up 8.3 percent of the statewide total.

Christina’s personal experiences and the experiences of thousands of other women inspired her to start the Rebound Foundation, which supports and provides resources for survivors of domestic violence in southwest Missouri. 

In November, Christina, with the help of community leaders and businesses, opened a transitional home known as Marda’s House, which was named after her mother. This home provides shelter and safety for women and their children up to six months after they leave Harmony House (Greene County’s only domestic violence shelter). During these six months, women receive job skill training, parenting support courses, help finding permanent housing and financial literacy assistance.

Thankfully, the Rebound Foundation isn’t alone in this fight. Harmony House has long been a place survivors can turn to in times of emergency. In 2018, Harmony House was fortunate enough to secure 18 apartment units in west central Springfield for survivors. This allowed individuals another safe haven in Springfield to start over. As one survivor and resident of these apartments said, even though she’s 60, she feels like she’s 20 with her whole life ahead of her.

Last week, I had the privilege of meeting Christina and others who are committed to ensuring all survivors are taken care of and have access to the resources and help they need. Thanks to their hard work and dedication, survivors have a number of places to stay while getting back on their feet.

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