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October 11--  Some victims of domestic violence endure for years, but in some cases it happens unexpectedly.

{mosimage}"My ex-husband was trying to control me and keep me from leaving the house.  He had never been abusive but in 20 minutes I became a victim of domestiv violence and was shot three times," said Valerie Williams Thursday to a Domestic Violence Awareness Month luncheon sponsored the The Refuge Domestic Violence Shelter in Toombs County.

Williams, from Brunswick, has three chiildren and was appointed by Governor Nathan Deal to the Georgia Commission on Family Violence.  Her advice to abused women is to seek help and get out.

"Try to get some help.  Be very smart and get a safety plan if you're thinking about leaving. Let someone know.  Don't be afraid and don't feel like it's your fault.  Domestic violence is very prevalent and lives are being destroyed and children are being lost.  Find someone you can communicate with and make a safety plan so you can get out," she advises.

One place you can get help is "The Refuge" which serves a five-county area surrounding Vidalia.

According to Director Betty Dell Williams, "We want to get the word out that there is a shelter here that helps victims of domestic violence.  We want them to know there is hope.  As we heard the story today, you can go from victim to survivor to overcomer.  That's what we want for victims.  We want them to get out, to be safe and to have hope.

"We're a 24-bed facility and we serve women and children inside the shelter and we also serve men.  If a man needs a place to go, we'll put him in a motel.

"They do not have to come into the shelter to get our services.  We have services such a temporary protective order.  Some women choose to go stay with family or with friends and in that case we help with protective orders and support groups.  We also have support groups for the children," Williams explains.

You can contact "The Refuge" by calling 538-9935.