"Shelters are important for helping people when they have nowhere else to go," she said, "but after they leave that shelter, they need to follow up with counseling."
Lee-Hackney is proof. She said Friday she kept thinking her abuser would stop or that he'd get help. She came up with excuses or blamed herself for why he hit her. It wasn't until he almost killed her one day that she decided she would have to leave but, even after that, she kept in contact with him.
It was not until the court took Lee-Hackney's children away and gave custody to their biological father that she got professional help. The judge told her she'd have to go through a domestic violence program before she could get her kids back.
At first, she only went to counseling to abide by the court's order. But the more she talked to Crawford, the more she learned about abuse and the more confident she became.
"Elizabeth helped me find myself," she said.
Domestic violence victims lose their own identities, she said. "When you're abused, you become who your abuser wants you to be." Through counseling and support, she regained herself.
"There are ways out [of abusive relationships]," she said. "You just have to have the courage to do it."
Reach Rusty Marks at rustyma...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1215.