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Victims of domestic violence speak out to help others
Rochester, N.Y. - Victims of domestic violence often live in fear. Once they do escape and get help, they often don't talk about their abuse - at least not publicly - for fear their abuser will come after them.
But, two local women are sharing their stories hoping to inspire other victims to get out of abusive relationships and get help.
Karen Messina-McDonnell was abused during her first marriage. She was just 21-years-old and wanted the fairytale wedding but instead says it was a nightmare.
Messina-McDonnell told 13WHAM News, "The first time they lash out at you, you are just shocked, it was a nightmare. I had a great childhood, my parents were loving and had a good marriage. Then, I moved in with a man who was mean and nasty to me. It was so scary."
She lived with the verbal and emotional abuse until it became physical. A neighbor helped her escape the violent relationship. She never looked back.
She is now remarried, happy and has two grown children. But she also knew she wanted to give back and help other women get out and get help.
She volunteers with Alternatives for Battered Women and also with a group called Offsprings Charities. They provide resources to victims, including money for rent, car payments, bills and legal help.
Messina-McDonnell has also reached out to help another victim whom she met at an exercise class years ago.
She recognized that Tara Palmer was being abused and talked to her about it. Together, they support other victims and are speaking out publicly to encourage others to stop keeping their abuse a secret and get help.
This is Domestic Violence Awareness Month and there are many events planned to remember those who have lost their lives to abusive partners.
It is a month when supporters are encouraged to wear purple to honor, and remember victims of abuse.
Alternatives for Battered Women has helped hundreds of women and children find shelter to escape abusive homes. They have also taken calls from hundreds of others who need help to get out.
That hotline number is 585-232-7353. It is staffed 24 hours a day.
Messina-McDonnell said there is no reason for victims to feel ashamed or to blame themselves.
She encourages them to find someone they trust, talk to them and leave the abusive relationship.