11/13/2013 12:08 AM
OAK HILL - According to the national coalition against domestic violence, rural areas like West Virginia see a higher rate of domestic-related incidents against women. In the first part of our series Abuse at Home, we look at the ongoing issue of domestic violence here in the mountain state.
Elaine Goodman was in an abusive relationship with her ex-husband for about 19 years. Goodman says he emotionally wore her down by calling her ugly and worthless everyday. She says she was brainwashed and constantly walking on eggshells in that relationship.
She says, "I had to be very careful - those eggshells could break. I had to be careful what I said, I had to be careful what I did, I had to be careful how I looked."
Goodman is not alone. Last year, the Women's Resource Center in southern West Virginia provided direct services to more than 3400 victims, 284 of which were sexually assaulted. Officials there say during the past six years 188 people have died as a result of domestic violence in West Virginia alone. Executive Director Patricia Bailey explains that it can be very hard for people to leave an abusive relationship even when their life depends on it.
Bailey says, "You don't want to leave that person, you don't want your kids to be without a father, you don't want to lose your house, you don't want to lose all of this. You just want them to change. But they're not going to change."
Bailey says most of the people who use the center's services are victims of emotional and verbal abuse.
"The physical injuries heal. It's the other types of abuse that are in some cases worse."
Goodman eventually left her husband and started a new life with her children and grandchildren. One of the places she turned to for help was the Women's Resource Center. Now she's even going to college and studying to get her degree in social work.
"I want to be that voice. I want to be that person that reaches out and talks to somebody, that helps somebody."