MILWAUKEE — October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, but experts say it's a topic we should be discussing all the time.
The topic can be a very sensitive one so both the Sojourner Family Peace Center in Milwaukee and The Women's Center in Waukesha aim to create a safe space for victims.
Many domestic violence cases begin with a phone call to the 24-hour hotline.
"Sometimes they cannot call during the day," says Angela Mancuso, executive director of The Women's Center. "They can call at 3:00 a.m. We will have a live, human being answer the phone who has been trained explicitly in addressing the trauma of domestic violence or sexual assault."
The simple task of picking up the phone can seem monumental to anybody being abused.
"Sometimes it's hard to identify or isolate an emotion because it's all happening at once. It can be a big, swirling storm," Mancuso says.
The Women's Center staff is highly-trained in creating a safe place for survivors to come forward.
"We want to provide that feeling of warmth and safety and comfort. Things that many people take for granted."
And they want to dispel the common myths surrounding domestic violence such as, why doesn't a person just leave their abuser?
"It can be very dangerous to leave your abuser," Mancuso says. "Specifically without any safety planning or any supportive measures in place."
Children may also be involved in the decision as well as finances or religious reasons. Mancuso says it is not a decision that can be made quickly, but a big thought process that is one hundred percent up to the victim.
"It can take a victim up to six times to successfully leave their abuser."
The important thing is for friends and loved ones to take time to be there for a victim and encourage them to get help.
"Sometimes those words: I hear you, I see you, I believe you- is enough to give a victim some hope."
If you or someone you know is experiencing domestic violence call The Women's Center 24-hour hotline at (262) 542-3828 or the hotline at Sojourner Family Peace Center at (414) 933-2722.
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