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2019 Top-Rated Nonprofit

Break the Silence Against Domestic Violence Inc.

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Nonprofit Overview

Mission: To provide community resources and support services to victims, survivors, and families affected by domestic violence.

Programs: Survivor Sister Retreat: To support a leadership development program, which empowers female survivors of domestic violence as they partake in workshops devoted to promoting a positive self-image, individual development, life skills training, and enrichment courses. Angel Families Retreat: The Angel Families Retreat is an overnight program that hosts families who have lost loved ones from domestic violence. Attendees experience healing through group activities, intimate discussions, and workshops led by trained professionals, and through guided meditation and reflection. National Scholarship Program: Break the Silence against Domestic Violence recognizes and honors victims, survivors, children, and relatives of those affected by domestic violence through our annual scholarship program. Recipients must be committed to academic excellence, leadership, and community service. Holidays of Hope is our way of spreading love and cheer for children who have been devastated by domestic violence through surprise gift-giving. Jamie Campbell’s Grants of Hope Financial Empowerment: Provides survivors of domestic violence with financial assistance to help overcome economic challenges as a direct result from financial abuse. Survivor Helpline: Break the Silence against Domestic Violence now offers a unique service many other nonprofits typically do not. We offer a Survivor Helpline, which is answered Monday – Sunday. Confidential Social Media Support & Advocacy: Technology has been an increasingly popular outlet for survivors and victims of trauma to seek refuge. Our trained advocates provide support and care for those who are looking for help “anonymously.”

Community Stories

70 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

Rebecca L.5

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I am currently a full-time blog writer for BTS. I have been with BTS for almost a year, and plan on staying for as long as they will have me. The team is wonderful, everyone is tight-knit, welcoming, and passionately work together towards a common goal... breaking the silence against domestic violence. Kristen, the founder of BTS is inspirational, hard-working, and somehow is able to juggle so many things, all while maintaining a relationship with each volunteer. BTS has made a difference in my life, and the life of so many others. As both a survivor and a volunteer- Whether you are in need of support or want to provide it, have a survivor story to tell or would like to write someone else's, or simply want to take your experience and use it to help others in your same position, I highly recommend getting involved in BTS.

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

Thank you to Break The Silence for Domestic Violence for the BTSADV Scholarship. This scholarship will help me explore who I am and find my strength. Writing the scholarship essay was emotionally difficult, but helped me work thru more of my struggles and issues and gain perspective on where I was, where I am and where I want to be. Thank you for the support and recognition. Sean

Client Served

Rating: 5

BTSADV is doing amazing work to help support women change their lives. I am a living testament to this. I am a non-traditional student and survivor who has received a scholarship thanks to their generosity. They are committed to helping people break their own cycles of violence. I am honored to be a part of such a strong community and hope BSTADV can gain momentum in their goals of breaking the silence. Thank you BTSADV you have helped me tremendously!

Marielen Tucker B.

Client Served

Rating: 5

BTSADV has been a god send. After our daughter died we struggled to move forward and with BTSADV they help us connect with families that understand what we are going through, the pain and the understanding that assisted us to move forward through this most difficult time. I appreciate all that they have done to reach out to us and give us support throughout these last couple of months. Our daughter has not Received justice at this time so it has been amazing to have BTSADV just a message or call away for support. Our lives have changed and everyday has been a struggle since Shaina Bigby’s death. There aren’t the right words to convey our appreciation to Break the silence Against Domestic Violence. Thank you the Bigby Family ❌⭕️❌⭕️

Samantha I.1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

The Survivor Retreats are amazing! They help survivors to connect with other survivors. The Survivor Retreat was the missing piece in my recovery process. I believe so in the mission of Break the Silence Against Domestic Violence, Inc., I became a volunteer myself!

This is the most amazing and beneficial nonprofit organization I have ever seen!

Volunteer

Rating: 5

BTSADV is a wonderful community with supportive members -- they go above & beyond by providing services such as scholarships, holiday drives, healing retreats, and other programs! I'm grateful to have found BTSADV through their Angel Scholarship program and am thankful for having the opportunity to volunteer with them as a writer and to join them in a lifelong sisterhood!

tammy050467

Client Served

Rating: 5

This organization literally saved my life. The emotional support and care they gave after losing my daughter to domestic violence was life saving. The Angel family retreat helped jump start my healing and has given me a purpose to live. My daughter's legacy lives on because of the work they do.

Previous Stories
1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

It was two years after my 22 year old daughter was murdered on Thanksgiving night. I was struggling to exist in a world without my child. I stumbled across this Facebook page with a young woman sharing her story of abuse and how she would not be silenced ever again. She had so many things in common with my daughter. Everything from her love of pageants to making others laugh and smile. I shared my daughter's tragic story with the founder. Little did I know that we were meant to meet, we were meant to become family, we were meant to join forces and change the world ...one victim at a time. She held my hand and led me out of the darkness of grief and helped me begin my healing process. And now we share our Angel's story with the world and empower victims to begin their own personal journey to healing. My daughter thought she could leave tomorrow but her tomorrow never came. Love, hugs and prayers from Mama Tammy

Marisol C.

Client Served

Rating: 5

I loss my sister to domestic violence & have been so loss without her. I needed support. To be around others that had been through the same loss to be able to share my sisters story without judgement. BTSADV held an Angel retreat and I feel they have save me tremendously. It was the best decision I have ever made. The retreat has made a positive impact on me. I could get past the horror of what had happened to my sister. I was very depressed. The pain will never go away but talking openly about it was therapeutic. It’s the beginning of some type of healing. BTSADV support and love was amazing. I highly recommend it. Best group out there. Thank you so much for what you have done. Words are not enough describe the impact BTSADV has made in my life. Had I not found this group I don’t know where I would be.

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

As a full time teacher, part time graduate student, sister, aunt, daughter, and friend; I find myself stretched thin. However, I often remind myself that while I was married to my now ex-husband and abuser, I was not able to be a full time teacher, attending graduate school was not an option, nor being a sister, aunt, daughter or friend as he did not allow me to contact and/or reach out them or allow others to reach out to me. So, despite feeling stretched thin, I am grateful that I have an opportunity now to spend time teaching, attending graduate school, and being there for my family and friends when I am needed most. The money awarded to me through the Angel Scholarship has been used to cover the cost of one graduate class. One graduate class among the 18 classes, not including internship and practicum, that are required for my graduate program in School Counseling. The power of one class that was covered is truly a remarkable gift. One class that someone felt I needed to begin my journey as graduate student. Therefore, ensuring that my experience as a domestic violence victim, now survivor, will be asset to a future school district and the student's there by continuing my education beyond teaching in the classroom. In fact, one of my professor's said it best - "You are an Ambassador of Hope." We can all be an Ambassador of Hope. As I continue to work hard and save the money I need to continue my graduate program, I will be able to graduate. I am grateful for the extended financial generosity.

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

Have you ever found yourself in the darkest abyss of abuse and did not know how to get out. Your eyes search and search for light for a hint of any hope when suddenly there is a pinpoint hundreds of miles away. You stretch, reach and feel yourself rising and you kick a swim your way towards it. As you draw nearer towards that pinpoint it seems to get bigger and bigger. Suddenly you break the surface of the water and bump into a little lifeboat. You drag your body over the side and feel a sense of gratitude for the safety of the boat--for now. But you keep your eyes focused on the pinpoint that has now turned into a beam and you paddle towards it. The Beam is strong and is guiding you towards a safe harbor. You feel REAL hope and light and love. You are free from the Abyss of Abuse and now can see the full Beam of Light--the Beacon of Light! You are safe. You are welcomed. You are surrounded by hundreds of people who have an unfortunate commonality of abuse but together have a fortunate sisterhood. This is Break the Silence Against DV sisterhood. Thank you for standing and breaking the Silence. We all must--thank you for helping us to lead the way.

Jessica Z.1

Client Served

Rating: 5

I met my abuser in 2009, nd I have to say he fooled me, I was so blind until January 2018, he had beat me so bad inside and out I turned to a suicide attempt. And because I came from a broken home, I was almost use to it (my father beat me, until I was put in CPS custody) I was so numb from the world I never saw my kids cries for help, but when I lost my 3 kids to CPS for domestic violence, I knew it was god giving me another chance at being a MOM, but i knew it was going to be rough, 9 years of my life and i was completely trapped even after I decided to leave, I felt trapped. I didn't know my left from my right, never had money, no sitter, no friends, no transportation, no one to turn to, homeless with 2 girls and a bby boy, but I could say this I have never seen a smile so big, on my kids face, you couldn't tell us nothing, we were free. Until I finally asked for help, I was so scared and nervous, all my life, I've had the short end of the stick, but I refused to feel sorry for myself any longer!! With assisstance from CPS me my kids got housing and I got a job, but then came bills, and again, I had no clue what to do!! I had no money management skills, but I figured it out....that was until my job lost all funding and couldn't pay us no more, unemployment here I go! Really didn't get much, bearly made enough for the bills, I had no work experience, so finding a job, was really hard, and my communication skills were shy. My kids saw the stress, It was going to be my kids first Christmas with NO fighting, arguing, and I felt like I ruined it! My oldest sat me down and told me not to worry, as long as they get a Christmas tree and some peace and quiet, they'll take it! But it only made motivated, I didn't know how to work the internet too much. Im just glad I took the time to learn. I didn't know how I was going to make things happen for my 3 kids. But I did know god was leading to tell my story, then the perfect words were right in front of me. "BREAK THE SILENCE" thats just what i did! I also asked for help and guidance and thats just what me and my kids got, they helped me, Christmas day, I was the BEST MOM in the world. But it wasn't just Christmas, it also gave me some breathing room, to take care of our bills, and most importantly, myself!!! The stress of it all was a tremendous weight off my shoulders. Lastly your staff is amazing, they actually care, the calls not to check in with me about statuses, but to check on me, the late night emails (due to me only having time at night) I could never repay the amount of time they put in, but me and my kids just like to say thank you for everything HOLIDAYS OF HOPE!! You rock! Now, I still have a long road of healing, but this time, IM IN CHARGE...and all it took was for me to BREAK THE SILENCE

2 Rita_ehn

Client Served

Rating: 5

I had the honor of being chosen for the Grants of Hope program through BTSADV this year. There are many programs and resources that help victims of domestic violence leave. But none like BTSADV that truly understand how hard it is to pick up the pieces long after you're out. For 13 years I endured physical, and devastating mental and financial abuse. I left the relationship with three children by my abuser, in debt and with nothing to my name. For 7 more years after that I continued to struggle. This year I turned 40 years old and became deeply depressed about my financial situation. I have a job. I survived domestic violence. I got out. Why am I so stagnant? My mindset, my confidence, my decision-making skills had all been damaged. I was still living like I was a victim. I was just surviving to get to the next month or week or day. When I applied to the Grants of Hope program I knew I needed help, and not just financial help. I needed to change the way I thought about myself, and my children's and my future. The program made me face my financial situation head on, week after week. I am so grateful for the grant and all of the tools and support this program gave me, and most of all the wonderful people that run and support this organization.

Here's my story:

On the night of November 15, 2011, my children and I were standing on the doorstep of my parents’ home with a few garbage bags and laundry baskets containing everything I was able to grab from our home. I almost turned around and went back. I was so ashamed of my situation. I had been quiet about my abuse with my family, friends, coworkers, and had tried my best to hide it from my children until the night I left.
My ex-husband was excessively jealous throughout our marriage. He was envious of the relationships I had with friends and family, and over time worked to sever every one of them. He downplayed anyone close to me, was quick to point out their faults and flaws, constantly made me feel like people were against me, and ultimately succeeded in making me feel as if no one else really cared about me at all. He outright lied about friends and family to discredit them in my eyes. I met him when I was 19. By the time I was 23 my entire circle of family and friends was broken.
In the beginning, we argued constantly about his controlling and jealous behavior, behavior I did not recognize was not love. I had never been exposed to any type of abuse growing up, and I had no idea how to deal with it. I felt it was something that could be fixed. When the physical abuse started, I fought back. I never thought of myself as a domestic violence victim. In my mind it was a fight, not abuse. He was 6’5” and over 200 hundred pounds. I lost every time.
During these fights, there were days I succeeded in making him leave, only to wake up that night to him at my bedroom window, or sitting outside of my apartment for hours waiting for me to come out the next morning. He would pop up randomly where I lived, at my job, anywhere he knew I would be. I slowly began to realize that this was not going to be a relationship that I was just going to simply walk away from, even if I wanted to. Instead of reaching out for help, I withdrew further into myself, and closer to him. I was spending all of my time with him, not going to class, and even failing school. In my head, I became an island.
My abuser didn’t physically assault me every day. In fact, there were long periods, sometimes months at a time, with no physical abuse. He did not physically assault me regularly because he did not need to. He had numerous ways to control me and physical abuse was just one of his many tools. I was financially and emotionally manipulated early on, and it didn’t take long for me to stop challenging him in any way I thought would lead to physical violence. I had objects thrown at me, my hair pulled out, and was often held behind closed doors with my mouth covered until I couldn’t breathe or call for help. Violence was always followed by dramatic, seemingly sincere apologies and honeymoon periods that made me feel the relationship was getting better. Although I forgave him many times over, none of his apologies took away the permanent fear that was planted in me from these episodes.
I am sorry to say this lasted for 13 years. I had three children with my abuser. During that time span we moved 10 times. The most devastating move was when I followed him to another state hundreds of miles from my family. Every day with him was unpredictable. Sometimes I would come home to notices on the door for utilities and rent that had not been paid that he said he had taken care of. Other times he would disappear for days with no contact, using the only car we had and leaving me without transportation. His return from these hiatuses again resulted in arguments and physical altercations.
It took a long time for me to accept my marriage was not salvageable. When I did, I had no idea how I was going to leave. Where would I go? Would I be safe? If I stayed with family, would they be safe? What about my kids? I didn’t have answers to all of these questions, but I knew I had to go.
The first few months after I left for good were some of the scariest months of my life. I received nonstop threatening text messages and phone calls at work. Even after securing a protection order my apartment and my parent’s home were broken into and burglarized several times. Things were stolen off of my front porch. I woke up to flat tires. I made police reports but I could never prove it was him. When a warrant was issued for his arrest for harassing communications, he left the state, and I was finally able to breathe and stop looking over my shoulder. It has been a long road to recovery from those years with him, but I have been able to slowly work toward a much happier, healthier and more stable life. Most importantly, I am safe, and living free from domestic violence.

2 Amanda M.10

Client Served

Rating: 5

I seen the ad for grants of hope on Facebook one day, decided hey what do I have to loose. I filled out the application and weeks went by never heard anything. Then all of a sudden I had an amazing conversation with Sheila, we clicked instantly and the process had started. Now I am trying to figure out how I can ever repay you for the amazing knowledge and kindness everyone has shown my family and myself.
Here is my story:
It was late and I woke him up, I knew I should not have done that, but I needed the sixty dollars I loaned him so that I could pay the eclectic bill tomorrow. A huge fight started and we ended up in the hallway with his hands around my throat. That is where it all began and how I wish that is where I let it end. Of course days go by and he acts as if nothing happens, brings me flowers and even bought me a ring a few months later. I was so young and naïve I had no idea this is not what love was supposed to be like.
Weeks go by and we find out we are pregnant! How exciting, we start picking out names together and we both know it is a girl. Just a hunch I guess, we picked the name Zayna, it means Beautiful. This is where things really start to go south. I was so tired during this pregnancy, and any time I would take a nap and did not respond to his text right away I would wake up to horrible nasty ones. Calling me names like “Stupid C*nt” He thought that I was cheating on him or I don’t know what.
Later that month we had gotten into a physical fight and he had tried taken the ring off my finger. I ended up in the Hospital. He was arrested and stupid me, let him come home after he got out of jail. I even called his PO begging for him to be able to come home for the holidays. Sometimes I still think back and wonder if I had stayed away from him if our baby would still be alive.
The end of January it was the worst it had ever been, I replay it in my head all the time. It is like a movie and I cannot find the remote to press stop or the cord to unplug it. I was basically a rag doll that he just tossed around the whole room, lifeless. Once I finally got him locked out of the apartment he sat outside the front door and slit his wrist from his hand all the way up to his elbow. Texting me the whole time saying that he was bleeding for me.
The next few weeks were sort of fuzzy for me at this point, but on Valentine’s Day we had a doctor’s appointment to hear the baby’s heart beat for the first time. The doctor could not find it, Okay no worries we are going to do an ultra sound and see what is going on. The look of DOOM flushes over the technicians face. She did not even have to say anything. They were able to give me an approximant date on when the baby’s heart stopped beating. Guess what? It lined up with the huge fight where I was tossed around like a rag doll.
I let this monster back into my life and now our baby is dead, what have I done?
The doctor wanted to schedule a DNC, but I wanted to go home and allow my body to do what it was meant to do naturally. Finally on February 22nd, I woke up in horrible pains, Labor was starting. I went down starts to wake my abuser thinking maybe he may have even the slightest amount of sympathy in his body and he could help me through such a hard time. Unfortunately, we ended at the same place we began, with his hands around my throat. Then all of a sudden I feel a huge puddle at my feet, my water had broke.
I grabbed my son, who was two at the time, and we locked ourselves in the bathroom. I called my mom and a friend who was going to help me thru the process of delivering my baby. My mom called the cops and they came to deal with Mykel, my abuser. Originally I was supposed to put a trash bag on the toilet to catch everything that came out, but I was bleeding so much I ended up getting in the bathtub. It was like a scene in a horror movie, my horror movie. The cops kept asking me questions and wanting me to come downstairs, at first I was able to do that, but finally I told them if you want to talk to me you can come up here and see what I am dealing with.
Once they all left I had to collect what I had passed and give it over to the coroner, who was also parked outside my door. I never got to bury her, never really got to say goodbye. That was ten years ago and to this day I still wonder what I could have done differently to have my baby in my arms. But that also means she would be able to be in his arms as well. She is safer where she is, as much as it hurts me.
Mykel never really got more than a slap on the wrist for anything that he did to me. Unfortunately, that is the way things worked ten years ago with Domestic Violence. I think that is why I kept quiet about so much of it; nothing was ever taken seriously so why should I keep reporting it. Things seem to be looking up for women who speak out now, and that makes my heart happy. It is why I went to school to be a social worker. My situation made me realize I wanted to help woman in the same situations that I was in.

April Lynn Schumacher - O.

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

I want to say thank you from the bottom of my heart for choosing me for the Break the Silence Against Domestic Violence Scholarship! Having been chosen helps me to remember that God will bring beauty from my ash heap. Plus, it gives me fuel to keep pushing forward to acquire more skills to help prevent women from entering into violent relationships.

Here is my story:

It all happened when I fell in love with a man I met on E-Harmony. We met, dated, and fell in love. Everything seemed perfect until the honeymoon night when I first saw his violent side. From that point on, I was scared for my life. I was beaten, suffocated, kicked and nearly died. I stayed because I blamed myself for his violent outbursts. "I thought to myself, if only I were nicer, or if I kept my mouth shut." These were the thoughts that kept me in bondage. Month after month the abuse grew worse, until one day I looked in the mirror and saw the bruises that covered my arms. Not only was I bruised on the outside, but my soul was destroyed. How could a man that pledged to love and cherish me, beat me? Was I really that bad? After that one morning, I left. We went through counseling, but he grudgingly resisted help. In my heart, I wanted that happily ever after ending, but I knew it was not going to end that way.

Three years later, after more therapy, I felt called to pursue counseling with an emphasis on premarital counseling to help women understand how to avoid violent and unhealthy relationships. Students hold the keys to success in helping fight domestic violence by gaining an education. With the right tools, they will be equipped to combat domestic violence by coaching women before they enter life-threatening situations.

Domestic violence kills the soul and shatters the life of an individual. Through proper counseling and healing can they become whole again. As a student, I am ready to gain the necessary education to help combat domestic violence and recreate the happily ever after that was stolen by the man who promised to love me. I will live happily ever after knowing that I spared young souls from a domestic violence situation.

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

I knew I was being verbally “abused” but I just thought I deserved the way he talked to me. I didn’t cook supper right, the car broken down again, the cat way dying, I didn’t make enough in pay.
I used to want him to just hit me so I had a reason I feel the hurt I was feeling. That is, until he beat me unconscious twice and had no recollection of it. His family knew he had been cheating on for years with both men and women. They chose to accept the fact that he was abusing me and it was ok.
I was ALWAYS the problem according to them.
Police told me that verbal abuse was considered as bad physical abuse. But I didn’t hear them all I heard was he gets away with everything and is NEVER charged.
He got everything in the divorce because his family paid for his lawyer and I couldn’t afford one.
I got rid of the guns he would threaten me with.
I finally fled when he told me he’s was going to kill me and THIS time I woke up and fled for my life.
6 months later I’m still homeless, jobless (because of my looks) and my car is in need of repair.
With having pets shelters won’t take you which is ok as I wouldn’t do well.
I’m still searching for a way out of this rut, but I’m keeping my faith, or trying to.
There are no simple answers and I’ve found unless victims have cold hard cash, they’re on their own. Sure there are agencies that can help with counseling, temporary housing, etc it’s just not enough.
I went from looking like the first photo to this.

2 Misty P.1

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

I reached to BTS on Facebook for help with my 20 y/o daughter. She was 14 hours away from me and in a very abusive relationship. She’d want to leave when things were bad but would change her mind when my plans to rescue her became to real. I asked for help and was connected with Cathy, who gave the best adive and it worked! I was able to get my daughter away from her abuser and she is safely 14 hours away from his reach. I’ve since spoke with Cathy and she continues to be a valuable resource in navigating on next steps. This organization is amazing and is doing so many good things. I look forward to being apart of it in the future. Thank you BTS!

TereD

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

I was 18 when I first met my abusive ex husband and stayed married for more than 20 years for the kids sake. At first, he was charming and friendly, a shoulder I could cry on. But it changed quickly especially after I ran off with him and got pregnant. The fist slap was before we got married and I was 3 montns pregnant. I, too, like so many women believed that the kids needed their mother and father together to have a "normal upbringing." My son and daughter are both successful adults and great people I'm very proud of, despite of it all, and are my silver linings through the dark clouds. However, the manipulation, verbal, mental, physical abuse that I went through as a naive, helpless, trapped young woman was too much to bear. Yet, I stayed and took it all in silence for years. I didn't know my rights at the time, did not call the police at all as I was both ashamed and at same time protecting my abuser thus becoming a victim who was complicit to her own abuse and misery by being silent. No one deserves to be abused nor anyone has any right to strike another person. My advice is to leave, report the person to the police, and get the proper help/support as it is not gonna get better by staying and being silent. Such silence just gives more power to the abuser believing that you will never leave nor do anything about it as my ex had taunted me with for years. So it was a shock to him when I did finally leave. He begged and harrassed me for more than a year. He was not just a coward but also a manipulator who was afraid to lose what he thought he can control.

My life has never been more peaceful since I left that dysfunctional marriage and my relationship with my son and daughter is also better. Living the life I want to live drama/abuse free and with zest. So take control and break the silence!

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

One year ago my abuser dropped dead at my new apt . It was the best thing that could of happened to me . My friends always told me I would never get rid of him unless he dies . I couldn't of asked for a better miracle. This may sound insensitive ,but I suffered 9years of hell verbal abuse to its max . This person had the power to ruin my life ,and my inner spirit as well . Now that he is gone , The after affects are worse . I am on multiple anxiety medications , I have flashbacks, I am paranoid, I can't sleep , and I keep thinking he is coming back . I cannot focus .it's a life I would not wish on any woman . People say leave . Not as easy as yu might think . And if that person states that he is going to kill yu . Believe him , because he will . Get out . Your personal belongings mean nothing compared to your life . Having your life as your own back ,is the greatest gift yu will ever be thankful to get back .

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Break the Silence (BTS) changed my life. I attended the sisterhood retreat, and I left feeling empowered, loved, blessed beyond belief, and a lot of my anger was left behind. Now as a volunteer, I can help bring BTS to my community and help other survivors.

Pamela W.1

Client Served

Rating: 5

I have only interacted with BTSADV online but they have a great support network, providing resources and education as well as a platform for victims and survivors to come together in a safe place and share experiences.