A woman named Missy stood out in front of a Wal-Mart in Texarkana about a year and a half ago with all her possessions next to her feet. She felt lost and afraid in a city where she knew only one person. He had physically and verbally abused her and taken drugs. Finally, the abuse just turned into what she called a “snowball progression.”
When she moved to be with him from Palestine, TX, she didn’t know about his drug abuse. “I didn’t realize he was using, and I did not want to be part of that life,” she said. She stayed with him for eight months with her back against the wall as he warned her she could not leave.
One day he finally did allow her to go if she promised she would not call the police. She thought about going to the local shelter, but she knew that would be too close. She needed to escape to a town further away. So, she called Compassion’s Foundation, Inc. in Magnolia, AR. When she called, she was told she would need to get a ride to the facility, and then they could help her. A tender-hearted older woman saw Missy’s desperate situation and decided to help her by giving her a ride to Magnolia. “God, intervened. I know I looked like I was in dire straights with the few bags that I had outside of Wal-Mart,” she said.
The first couple of weeks at the shelter, Missy said she mostly just slept and recuperated. The women there were kind and asked if she would like to go to church services, but she said couldn’t. “I just wasn’t trying to hear that yet,” she said. What she found particularly nice about the shelter was how much the community supports it. By donating clothing, the community truly makes a difference for women who need these items. “We were freely able to get something to go look for a job or to go to church in,” she said. Donations from the community also paid for prescriptions women needed while in the shelter and even sometimes beyond. “He had broken my false teeth, and I was pretty sure this was going to hurt my chances of getting a job,” she said. “Somehow, a Texarkana dentist fixed them. The money got donated, or he did it. I don’t know.”
As soon as she had her teeth, Missy was ready to work and began at a local restaurant for five months. But she had her hopes set on a job at another local company where she could make a better living. Her hopes became a blessing when she received a job at that company.
She said she doesn’t know what she would have done without the Compassion’s Foundation, Inc. and the great gift they gave her of starting over. “If I was stuck at Wal-Mart, I don’t know what I would have done. I probably would have ended up in another relationship,” she said. “The advocates were supportive, and they knew what I was doing. It was kind of like a family there. I mean, they are strict, and they have rules, but that is so people don’t take advantage.” Missy said she knows the statistics for women going back to their abuser are high, so the advocates work with the clients and teach them independence. “I don’t want to be dependent on anyone again,” she said.
Another aspect of her new life is her church home, which she considers her second family. She also has taken on a second job at a local restaurant since they provided her a job during a temporary lay-off. “I figure it’s the right thing to do because it wouldn’t be right for them to train me only to work here a few months,” she said.
The gifts she first received at Compassion’s Foundation, Inc. are things she never will forget. Gifts were donated from surrounding businesses for holidays and a whole closet of toys for the children living there. She said they have a big clothes basket donated by the college students with everything a woman would want, from personal items to hygiene items to snacks. Picking out clothes for a job was incredibly easy because the shelter had things separated by size, she said. “From your underwear to the jacket you might need, they had it,” she said. “And I thoroughly enjoyed being there.”
For last year’s Christmas, Missy remembers an advocate inviting the clients to their home for a lovely meal. While the meal was beautiful, Missy said she was just glad the shelter made her safe. “I would have been ok staying at the shelter eating a ham sandwich than being in an abusive relationship,” she said. “They were so family-oriented. They would not let me feel like I was doing without.”
Missy wants everyone who reads her story to know that help is out there if they are in an abusive situation. She no longer feels worthless as she did when she was in the relationship. She encourages those in and around Magnolia to choose Compassion’s Foundation, Inc. for help. “It’s very humbling to have someone help you,” she said. “If people could get around the fear of change, they could get around being mentally and physically abused.”
To learn more about Compassion’s Foundation, Inc. in Magnolia, AR, please visit this link or call (870) 235-1414.
Becky Bell is an award-winning newspaper writer who has worked at numerous newspapers including the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette and the Texarkana Gazette. Prior to becoming a freelance journalist, Becky worked in the Communications Department at Southern Arkansas University and served as University Editor. While working there, she also received a Master’s in public administration.
She is a dog lover and lives with her dog, Queenie Belle, a rescue Papillon-mix, in Magnolia, Arkansas. In her spare time, she volunteers for the Stew Pot at the United Methodist Church and attends Trinity Baptist Church. She also serves on the board of Compassion's Foundation Inc., which helps victims of domestic violence. She was born in Texarkana, Texas, and attended Texas High School where she first started writing stories for the Tiger Times.