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Supporting victims of domestic abuse during the holiday season

Experts say stress during the holidays tends to make abusive relationships worse. A Rossford business is looking to help survivors this holiday season.

ROSSFORD, Ohio — A Rossford business is looking to help survivors of domestic abuse this holiday season.

Brigitta Burks owns Ella Flora. Her wedding and floral boutique is collecting goods as part of a supply drive for the Bethany House. It's one of the only long-term domestic abuse shelters in northwest Ohio. Domestic violence survivors and their children are able to call Bethany House home for up to a year and a half if they need it.

Burks understands that while she specializes in the things that bring smiles to everyone's faces, she knows life isn't always roses, champagne and happy times. 

"I think it's important to acknowledge the darker side of life," Burks said. "Since I am dealing with an area in my career that is a little bit more light and fluffy, so to speak, I do want to do something tangentially good for a portion of the community that's not having happy days whatsoever."

For the second year in a row, she's collecting items for Bethany House. She said the community has done so much for her, she has to give back to those who need it most. 

Bethany House Executive Director Deidra Lashley said she is proud of local businesses that want to help. Most especially, those who help during the holidays. 

Experts say stress during the holidays tends to make abusive relationships worse. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, more than 25% of women and one in 10 men in the United States are victims of domestic violence.

Lashley noted the stress of the holidays can be a lot: family coming in, having the perfect meal, financial expectations; the list is long and can also be triggering.

"It's also a very dangerous time to reach out for help," Lashley said. "And so it (donating) allows us to be able to continue to serve the survivors and the children that we have in shelter every single day."

In any given year, Bethany House shelters about 30 families. Lashley said she understands how hard it can be for victims to leave their situations because of things like a lack of finances or support, the welfare of the children, or a multitude of other reasons.

"When victims do leave, it's a very dangerous situation. They are 75 times more likely to be killed so all of those reasons it's a very scary decision to make," Lashley said. 

But, victims looking for a way out should always know they have options. She said up to 80% do leave. Burks said she urges the community to help out, especially when it counts.

"The Bethany house does such vital important work in Northwest Ohio. So, they were the only people I thought to reach out to when I knew I wanted to do something around Christmas time," Burks said. 

The drive will take place during store hours at Ella Flora, located at 301 Superior St. in Rossford until Dec. 23. The donation list includes everything from monetary, hygiene, household and business items. For the full detailed list of the asked for items, click here or check out the document below.

"We have to keep talking about it so survivors realize there are resources available and that there are people who understand what they're going through and there is support," Lashley said. 

If you or someone you know needs help, click here for the National Domestic Violence Hotline. 


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