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Survivor Stories

Every survivor has their own unique story. 



Survivor Story #1

My husband and I were married for over 10 years. Those years were fraught with physical violence, threats of violence, emotional abuse, spiritual abuse, and various forms of exertion of power and control. Throughout this time we were very involved with our church. Both of us had ministries, my husband on the governing body of the church, and I worked in children's ministries.

Early in our marriage my husband was physically violent with me. I told him I would leave if he ever laid his hands on me again. At that time I tried to contact my pastor; however he wasn't available when I called. After I made the call I began to fear the implications of telling my secret. What would everyone think? Would they believe me? My husband is Mr. Wonderful, everyone likes him. Then the personal self-doubt started. Am I making a bigger deal out of this than it really is? Do all husbands act this way? What I saw as a child was nothing like what I was experiencing. My Dad loved my mother: treating her with love, respect and kindness. I was completely unprepared for the abusive situation I was experiencing. The doubt lingered and festered.


As time passed, the abuse transitioned to verbal and emotional. Name calling, threats of physical violence, breaking of personal property, verbal abuse of the children, neglect, spiritual and financial abuse were all methods that he used to perpetrate domestic violence. For years I lived in fear. My children were young and with the birth of each he got worse. The more perceived responsibility he had, the more abuse I incurred. It got to the point that my eldest started being a target for abuse. That was when I knew I had to make some changes in our lives.  Follow this Link to Read More. 


Survivor Story # 2

It was a beautiful morning in Cuba on July 27. Although sad, I was packing up and moving back home to Southeast Missouri. It was the place I had called home since I was young. My husband and I had discussed the matter, and he seemed fine with the idea. He was a truck driver and could live anywhere. My 3-year-old daughter was happy because she would be closer to her father, my ex-husband. We had just settled an almost-two-year custody battle, and we were looking forward to the prospects ahead.

That morning my husband was eager to help load the car for us. He had been home for a week and was scheduled to go back out on his truck for a little while longer. The week had been rough. He had come home and threatened to kill me on Wednesday. We had been arguing a lot. But I had somehow settled him down and thought if I could get him back on the truck on Friday, all would be well.


I was wrong.


As we were driving to a local truck stop, my then-husband drove past it without saying a word. I asked him where we were going, while I had my finger on the button to roll down the window. I was scared. This was not the first time he had threatened my life. I was so tired that morning of struggling with him all week and hoping and praying that everything would be OK.  Follow the Link to Read More.


Susvivor Story # 3

First Person - Kara's Story
Who is She?

How I moved from darkness into the light of healing and learned to embrace the quiet power of forgiveness.
By Kara Greenspun


When I was younger, my family rented a beach house every summer. It was the highlight of the season for me, days filled with sunshine and the salty ocean air; it was freedom.


The summer after my 13th birthday, there was a cute boy staying next door. He was strong, tan and a few years older. He took an interest in me, and the excitement I felt was weird but undeniable. Just as I started to find words to my feelings, he turned my crush into chaos.


I didn't understand what was happening, but I knew it felt wrong. I was afraid-afraid of the pain, afraid of what my parents would say, afraid to fight. I didn't know what to do, so I hardly did anything. I was a child and I was ill-equipped to understand what was happening, what it meant, what it was called. In retrospect, of course things become clearer: I know now that he raped me, even if this is still something that I struggle to put into words, or to understand at all. I don't like going over the details of exactly what happened. The details aren't what is important anyway. What matters is what the rape did not just to my body, but to my soul.


Like the riot of confusion that follows when a wave knocks you down and pulls you under, I was engulfed by his betrayal, which was not just physical, but spiritual and emotional too. In an instant, my life changed. I couldn't pull myself toward the surface. A week passed, where twisted memories and dream-like events blurred together. I remember screaming. I remember yelling "NO!" But did I? The questions flooded my mind: What happened? Did I do this? Did he?  Follow This Link to Read More.







Frequently Asked Questions

If you are looking for information about domestic and sexual violence, please click here.



If you are looking for information about the Michigan Coalition to End Domestic and Sexual Violence, please click here.



What is Domestic and Sexual Violence?


Domestic and sexual violence occurs among all economic, ethnic, racial, social and religious groups. Abusers come from all economic and social classes, and ethnic and educational backgrounds. Violence can occur in any kind of relationship: married, dating or same sex partnerships. It can also take many forms and can happen all the time or occasionally.


Domestic Violence is a pattern of coercive and controlling behaviors that one uses to gain or maintain control and power in a current or former marital, cohabitating or dating relationship. The victim may also be a person with whom the perpetrator shares a child in common


Violence can include but is not limited to:

  • Physical Assault
  • Sexual Assault
  • Emotional Abuse
  • Social Isolation
  • Threats
  • Intimidation
  • Stalking


One tool that is effective to help understanding the dynamics of domestic and sexual violence is the Power and Control Wheel developed by the Domestic Abuse Intervention Project from Duluth, MN. Follow this link to review the Power and Control Wheel.


Sexual Violence is any sexual act that is forced against someone’s will. These acts can be physical, verbal, or psychological. Sexual violence includes intentional touching of specific body parts against a person’s will or when a victim is unable to consent, as well as voyeurism, exposure to exhibitionism, or undesired exposure to pornography. The perpetrator of sexual violence may be a stranger, friend, family member, or intimate partner.


What should I do to stay safe if I am currently in or considering leaving an abusive relationship?


If you are a victim, your physical safety should always be your number one priority. Whether you are currently with your abuser or are considering leaving the relationship, you should develop a safety plan to keep yourself and your children safe. Please contact any of our local or national partners for assistance.


What should I do if I have been sexually assaulted?


Sexual assault can be terrifying and traumatic. After an assault, it's not uncommon to feel fearful, confused, guilty, ashamed, or isolated. You do not have to deal with these feelings alone. Please contact any of our local or national partners for assistance.



What is the Michigan Coalition to End Domestic and Sexual Violence (MCEDSV)?


MCEDSV is a private, 501(c)(3) non-profit dedicated to the empowerment of survivors of domestic and sexual violence in the state of Michigan. Working with our member organizations, we organize training, technical assistance and manage the public policy work as set by our Executive team and Board of Directors.



Does MCEDSV provide help to survivors, victims or friends and family?


MCEDSV provides leadership as the statewide voice for survivors and the programs that serve them. Our efforts primarily involve providing training, technical assistance, and public policy advocacy.  MCEDSV actively works to expand the awareness of domestic and sexual violence across the state, especially with legislators in Lansing and Washington D.C. This work is vital in order to ensure adequate funding streams are uninterrupted and that effective legislation passes which improves access to services for survivors and does not cause additional trauma.


Additionally, MCEDSV is proud to be the contract holder for the Michigan Resource Center for Domestic and Sexual Violence. This collection of resources owned by the Michigan Domestic and Sexual Violence Prevention and Treatment Board (MDSVPTB) is a tremendous resource for the state of Michigan and anyone looking for information regarding Domestic and Sexual Violence.


How is MCEDSV funded?

MCEDSV receives funding through government and private grants, individual donors, and through various fund raising activities such as auctions and events.


How is MCEDSV related to the program/shelter/crisis counseling center in my area?


MCEDSV is a statewide membership organization that offers training and technical assistance to community and regional agencies in Michigan. Most comprehensive domestic and sexual violence service provider agencies in Michigan are members of MCEDSV, as are many allied organizations and individuals. Agencies do not have to be members in order to access training.


How is MCEDSV related to the Michigan Domestic and Sexual Violence Prevention and Treatment Board (MDSVPTB)?


The MDSVPTB was established within the Michigan Family Independence Agency (now known as the Department of Human Services) in 1978 by state legislation that created a Governor-appointed Board responsible for focusing state activity on domestic violence. The Board administers state and federal funding for domestic violence shelters and advocacy services, develops and recommends policy, and develops and provides technical assistance and training.


MCEDSV contracts to assist the Prevention and Treatment board with the creation and presentation of training for agencies around the state.


How can I help support the movement?


You have opportunities every day to support MCEDSV, survivors, advocates and the movement. From your interactions with your community, to your financial support, to standing up to demand equitable opportunities, you can have an impact. For specific details, please contact MCEDSV or find your local agency here to see how you can help in your community.



Resources for the Media


Reporting Sexual Assault: A Guide for Journalists is a collaborative project between state agencies, journalists, and professionals in the field of sexual assault. This guide was developed through efforts of the Michigan Coalition to End Domestic and Sexual Violence Media Workgroup.


Follow this link to the Reporting Sexual Assault: A Guide for Journalists


Working with the Media: A Toolkit for Service Providers is a companion guide for agencies to help educate them about engaging with the media.


Follow this link to the Working With the Media: A Toolkit for Service Providers.


The guide assists journalists in accurately and fairly covering incidents of sexual assault in their communities and encourage advocates to cultivate positive media relationships. With the tremendous expansion of communication venues, journalists and advocates are in a unique position to frame the public discussion on sexual assault.


Reports, Statistics and Fact Sheets on Violence Against Women


NNEDV National Census -The National Network to End Domestic Violence conducts an annual census that documents the number of individuals who sought services in a single 24-hour period, as well as the types of services requested, the number of service requests that went unmet due to a lack of resources, and the issues and barriers that domestic violence programs face as they strive to provide services to victims of domestic violence. Data from the one day count for 2014 is now being compiled.


2013 NNEDV Census Report- Michigan


The National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey (NISVS)


Impact of the Economy on Domestic Violence


Faith Community

Resources for the Faith Community:


This section of the website has been created for faith leaders and those within faith communities who have an interest in ending domestic and sexual violence and in responding with knowledge and compassion to survivors.


Websites for Faith Communities is a link to informational websites that address involvement of the faith community concerning the issue of domestic and sexual violence. 


How to use this website and these resources:


Browse, read and learn to become familiar with the issue. This is not an exhaustive link, but hopefully there will be resources here that will help you build knowledge and give you ideas for how your faith community may want to respond.


Gather others from your faith community to form a committee that can learn and grow together to act as a resource and a catalyst for change efforts within your community of faith.

The Michigan Resource Center on Domestic and Sexual Violence is a library of resources that can be checked out free of charge and can also be shipped anywhere in the state. The Resource Center library owns many faith based resources including books, videos and training materials. To find out more about the Resource Center materials, call (517) 381-4663 or visit the Resource Center's website at


Definition of the Problem:


Domestic violence can be defined as a pattern of coercive behaviors used to establish control over an intimate partner through fear, intimidation, emotional abuse, and social isolation, often including the use of or threat of physical or sexual violence. Sexual violence is a broad term that can be applied to physical, emotional or verbal behavior. It can include sexual harassment, incest, and sexual exploitation, as well as rape or sexual assault. There is much overlap in domestic and sexual violence; domestic violence presupposes a current or previous ongoing dating or marital relationship.


Why involve the faith community?


It is our belief that the involvement of the faith community is critical in efforts to respond to the problem of domestic and sexual violence and is often a missing piece in coordinated community efforts. For a discussion of some reasons why, please read:





Many of these resources are from a day-long training at MCEDSV which was facilitated by Transforming Communities Technical Assistance, Training and Resource Center. The event was attended by service providers and advocates working in team partnerships with faith leaders from various locations throughout Michigan. Contact MCEDSV to find out more about membership options and future training opportunities.





The resources on this website are not exhaustive. There is a great need for representation from all faith communities and a need for all faith communities to be involved in these efforts. Input to make the link more balanced and inclusive of different faith communities is very welcome.

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