National Domestic Violence Hotline Blog

From Survivor to Mountaineer

By Kathleen Schmidt

My name is Kathleen Schmidt, and I’m a survivor of domestic violence and abuse. I fled for my life over 15 years ago from extreme emotional and physical abuse, and created a new life for myself.

When I was living in a shelter for battered women, I kept telling myself over and over, “I have a brain, two hands, two feet and I know how to work; I WILL make my life better.” I chose to become a victor instead of a victim.  Books became my source of education and inspiration, and not only did I work on my own healing, I also had to find a way to earn a living. Not shy of hard work, I at one point sold pictures out of the trunk of my car. My efforts paid off, and it won me a trip to the Bahamas that allowed me to dive with sharks (I learned how to scuba dive while living in the shelter).

I entertained the idea for a very long time, since I lived in the shelter, to write my story. So finally, after many years needed to grow and heal, I wrote my little blue book “Escaping the Glass Cage: A Story of Survival & Empowerment from Domestic Violence.” It isn’t a big book, but something a woman in crisis can read and find encouragement in. I wrote it for women in shelters, but my hope is that it also helps those on the outside get a basic understanding of domestic violence and its effects.  But getting my book published didn’t feel like enough.

I wanted to find a way to reach more people on a global scale. So I created “Project Empowerment,” a blog talk radio show dedicated to empowering survivors of domestic violence and abuse, as well as others. I truly believe we each have a voice, and if people are able to listen to another’s story, it can help them make different choices and empower them to live a better life.

My guests have included Betty Makoni, Top 10 CNN Hero of the Year for 2009 for her humanitarian work rescuing rape victims in Zimbabwe. I’ve also interviewed actress/author Mariel Hemingway, as well as the National Domestic Violence Hotline’s Operations Director, Katie-Ray Jones. My guests have also included many shelter directors from all over the world, authors, psychotherapists, counselors and survivors, each sharing their story, their passion and the work they are doing to make our world a better place. We talk about the tough subjects, and at the end of each show we share our ideas of solutions to the issues discussed, such as why the victim stays, where do abused men get help, how a can victim get help to rebuild their life, and how we can empower the children.

It is humbling to be contacted by listeners from all around the world, to learn the vital resources shared and how their sheer willpower helped them gain the strength to leave their abuser. My dream to build “Project Empowerment” into a global resource tool is coming true.

But again, I felt there needed to be something else to raise awareness. So I am very excited to announce “Climb for Empowerment,” with the mission to empower survivors of domestic violence and abuse … one step at a time. I will be climbing Mt. Rainier September 1–3, 2011, in honor of all those who have struggled to start their lives over.

It is by choice, to take one step after another. My dream is to show the world that if I can make a new life, so can you, one step at a time. I know how hard it is to rebuild a life. It takes a lot of courage to start over, learn how to live again and grow through the pain. So this climb is a symbol of that growth. It takes time, training and a lot of determination to do this, and I will need your support. Donations will be shared between Girl Child Network Worldwide and The Pixel Project. Both are global initiatives working very hard to help end violence against women.

I truly believe that all healing and empowerment begins from within. And for us to have peace in our world, we must first have peace within our homes, within ourselves. If you can find that spark, that driving force that pulls you in the direction of doing something bigger than you, listen to it. We each have a voice, we each can make a difference in the world, and it all starts with us.

To learn more about my work, Project Empowerment, Climb for Empowerment and upcoming Empowerment Workshops (New!), you can visit my website at


Molly Maid – Creating Safer, Healthier Homes

Ms. Molly Foundation Since 1996, Molly Maid has raised over 1 million dollars to support the Ms. Molly Foundation, which provides assistance to over 110 domestic violence shelters across the country. The need to help has continued to grow over the years, as franchise owners see the impact domestic violence has had not only on its customers, but also among Molly Maid employees.

Danessa Itaya, chairperson on the Ms. Molly board of directors, says that a mission of the Molly Maid Foundation is to have their employees get involved in the community. Each franchise participates in various activities throughout the year, but most of the awareness and activities are focused in October during Domestic Violence Awareness Month. These grassroots efforts include silent auctions, charity concerts, car washes and chili cook-offs, to name a few.  Danessa also states that over the years, customer donations have increased by 50 percent, as more and more customers see the need for shelter services and want to give back to their communities.

Molly Maid also educates their customers by including information on domestic violence on their website, in-home materials and through social media.

We applaud Molly Maid, their employees and customers for taking a stand against domestic violence. To learn more about their work,  please visit the Molly Maid Foundation website.


The National Domestic Violence Hotline provides service to Guam

Local leaders and community based service providers join the Executive Director of the Guam Coalition Against Sexual Assault and Family Violence and the CEO of the National Domestic Violence Hotline to celebrate that citizens of Guam can now call a national hotline to seek help if they are in an abusive relationship.

Survivors of domestic violence can call the National Domestic Violence Hotline (The Hotline) at 1-800-799-SAFE if they need assistance.

“It takes a lot of courage and bravery to come forward and make a call for help. The Hotline will be there anytime, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week,” said Cynthia Cabot, Executive Director, Guam Coalition Against Sexual Assault & Family Violence. “I am honored to work in partnership with the National Domestic Violence Hotline. With budget cuts across all areas of government, this is one more resource Guam can access to maximize our dollars by tapping national resources to meet the needs of the community.”

The Hotline is a live voice on the line, a compassionate and caring voice – with people who want to help those who are in abusive relationships,” said Dyanne Purcell, CEO of The National Domestic Violence Hotline. “I am honored to work in partnership with the Guam coalition and offer another resource of help and hope to the citizens of Guam.”

The National Domestic Violence Hotline is the only hotline of its kind. It operates 24 hours a day 7 days a week in 170 languages connecting people in crisis to more than 4,000 sources of help in local communities across the US, Guam, Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands. The Hotline will be an additional resource to the local Victim Advocates Reaching Out (VARO) Hotline at 671-477-5552.

About us:

Guam Coalition Against Sexual Assault and Family Violence The Guam Coalition Against Sexual Assault & Family Violence, established in 2006, is comprised of non-profit organizations, government allies, community individuals and other Coalition partners who aim to stop sexual assault and family violence. The Guam Coalition focuses on community outreach, education, and training.

The National Domestic Violence Hotline was established in 1996 as a component of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) passed by Congress.  The Hotline is a nonprofit organization that provides crisis intervention, information and referral to victims of domestic violence, perpetrators, friends and families. The Hotline also answers a variety of other calls and is a resource for domestic violence advocates government officials, law enforcement agencies and the general public.


National Domestic Violence Hotline Blog

Why Doesn’t She Just Leave?

By Lisa Moss

Why doesnt she leave PicHi. My name is Lisa, and I am a survivor of domestic violence. I am so grateful I could change my life, and I want to help others do the same.

I kept a journal from the last years of my marriage and had it published as Why Doesn’t She Just Leave? The title is a question I’ve heard countless times, and you probably have too. It implies that it couldn’t be that bad, or we’d just leave. My journal shows the truth through real experiences, in my own words, and will help people understand why victims don’t just leave.

I also hope that victims will read it, see themselves in me, and realize that they too can get out and change their lives. Readers will see what it’s like to be treated so cruelly that you just about give up. Why don’t we just leave? Because we’re afraid of the perpetrator’s cruelty, violence, and punishments, and because we feel defeated.

You’ll probably see a lot of yourself in my diary. Why don’t we just leave? It’s because our batterers are cruel and will punish us and our kids, and because we’re afraid. They’ve made us feel helpless and worthless, and we believe them. I used to believe what he told me: that everything was my fault, that I was disgusting and nobody would ever want me, that I would lose my children and become penniless if I left him, that I was stupid and crazy and pathetic and worse. But he was wrong!

For those women who are still living with your abuser, start thinking “Liar!” every time he insults or blames you. The truth is that you deserve a better life! If I could change my life and transform myself from victim to victor, you can, too!

I hope you’ll feel free to check out excerpts from the book as well as reader reviews. And if you know either a victim who needs encouragement, someone who judges victims, or someone who doesn’t understand why victims don’t just leave, please consider letting them know about the book.

It’s been a slow victory and years later I still suffer from the after-effects of 13 years in hell, but it’s getting better and better all the time.

Please let me know what you think and feel as you read Why Doesn’t She Just Leave? I hope that my book will make you feel that if I, a woman probably very much like you, could get away from my abuser and change my life, you can too.

I wish every survivor and victim the wonderful life you deserve!

About the author: Lisa Moss is the author of Why Doesn’t She Just Leave (IUniverse, 2001, $24.95) You can purchase a copy of the book here.