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A Phone Call to Freedom

The voice on the phone was heavy with sadness, shame and a little fright. Jarod never thought this could happen to him. He’s a man, after all, and men aren’t victims of domestic violence. They’re just weak.

No one he works with would guess what’s happening at home. The tantrums she throws when she wants something they can’t afford or when he disagrees with her about anything. Slamming doors, breaking furniture and tonight, throwing his car keys into the lake. Once she destroyed all his shoes. Then last week, she withdrew most of their money and took off to Louisiana with a friend for the weekend, leaving him at home with no car, little money and too much shame to call and tell anyone what was going on.

He has to leave before the thoughts of suicide get the best of him. But, where would he go? He hasn’t shared his situation with anyone and he can’t bear the humiliation of calling his family. He’s heard about the local women’s shelter, but what about battered men? Out of options, he picks up the phone and dials the local crisis hotline, hoping to find help.

His call is directed to Kris, our case manager for non-residential victims, who listens and asks intentional questions about his current safety. Once satisfied he’s not in danger, she helps him create a safety plan and an exit plan. Within hours, Jarod is safe in an undisclosed location in town and has decided to confide in a trusted co-worker. He will have his car towed so he can have keys made and ask his coworker for a ride to work in the meantime. He will also hide his car for a few days.

Much to Jarod’s surprise, his coworker already suspected there was trouble at home, and agrees to give him a ride to work. Kris gets him a new cell phone and refers him to a counselor. Over the next few weeks, Jarod begins the process of putting his life back together. All it took was one phone call and a caring, informed person on the other end who was willing to listen and help.

We rarely think of men as victims of domestic violence, but it does happen and probably more often than you think. National statistics report 1 in 3 women (35.6 %) and more than 1 in 4 men (28.5%) in the U.S. have experienced rape, physical violence, and/or stalking by an intimate partner in their lifetime. While most counties have shelters for women and children, there is only one shelter in the entire state of Texas for men who are victims of domestic violence. And for every male who reports domestic violence, there are literally thousands that go unreported.

Mission Granbury’s crisis hotline gets hundreds of calls every month, but only a small percentage are looking to enter our shelter. Some, like Jarod, are males who don’t know where else to turn while others are females, not quite ready to enter a shelter. Their situations are bad, sometimes dire, but they can’t leave because of children, pets, financial circumstance, or a dozen other reasons they’re clinging to. When they call, we still respond by assisting with safety plans and emergency exit resources so they will be ready when the time comes. But more than that, we listen to them and their stories and help them see through the fog of fear and shame. Jarod almost didn’t pick up the phone but thank goodness he did. It was his phone call to freedom and a new life.

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