NEW YORK CITY (WJBF) – It’s estimated that one-in-four women, and one-in-nine men will become the victim of domestic violence.
The CSRA has seen its share of this crime and its devastation.
Our own Dee Griffin became a victim of domestic violence during her brief marriage.
Dee recently participated in a project that allowed her to use her “pain for purpose” toward helping others.
In New York City the Oculus is situated at the foot of the World Trade Center’s Freedom Tower as a tribute to those who died on 9/11.
On the grounds that experienced so much darkness a house was temporarily built inside to shine a light on a problem that continues to cause pain.
“I was asked to make an experience for one person at a time that would give a physical, emotional experience of what it’s like to try to leave an abusive relationship,” says the project’s Director Annie Saunders.
There are no signs or obvious hints of trouble inside the house much like in many cases of domestic violence.
One step inside, visitors begin to see personal pictures and typical household items.
Within minutes though they witness a journey shared by thousands but can make a victim feel so alone.
“It’s a one person audio journey through a series through a series of rooms we designed to follow a trajectory of abuse and also to detail some of the structures and social systems that support the continuation,” explains Saunders.
“The house is designed to be a maze of sorts signifying the struggles, uncertainty and roadblocks in domestic violence each item in this house represents someone else’s struggle. including mine,” says WJBF News Channel Six anchor Dee Griffin.
“Sure enough, as soon as i ducked his fist went into the refrigerator. the stainless steel refrigerator. i looked up and there was an indention” Dee says in the audio recording.
A fist impression in a refrigerator, hole in the wall, menacing messages on a phone screen, shattered cell phones and bullet holes take visitors through the nightmare that’s beyond a victim’s dream.
Saunders says, “we have a room that deals with romance and relationships and what we are taught about love and what it means. then we have rooms that show what it feels like at the beginning to be in a situation where there’s domination and control.”
There’s even a door with no knob to get out symbolizing entrapment and isolation.
“The lighting and sound moves with the audience member. as they look at one thing the light is coming up or flickering or whatever. as they move through the room it falls out or guides them to where they’re supposed to be going next.”
The project is part of a social awareness initiative by Santander Bank called “In someone else’s shoes.”
Santander Bank’s Senior Vice President of Communications Laurie Kight says this project, as well as a micro lending program, were created to help victims whose wounds can’t be seen but are felt financially.
“If we can help these people boost their credit scores that helps them move forward in their journeys to get out of domestic violence situations,” Kight explains.
“So often we walk by people and we have no idea what their real lives are like,” reflects Ruth Glenn.
She is the CEO of the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV).
As a child she witnessed domestic violence.
As an adult she experienced it.
Now, as a leader Glenn says she’s working to help save others.
“Whenever we talk about domestic violence it’s usually around physical abuse but we’re really highlighting financial abuse in this house and the idea that some of the control that abusers use when when they have a victim that they are maintaining control over is financial.”
The house was only on display for 72 hours.
Much like the Oculus stands as a symbol of healing, organizers want the house to provide heightened awareness while serving as a symbol of hope long after its gone.
“There are some women who do manage to escape and they do get the help and it makes you feel good,” signs domestic violence survivor Laura Cowan.
The project was sponsored by santander (sahn-tahn-dare) bank, the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV), and the National Network to End Domestic Violence (NNEDV).
To learn more about the micro loan for victims go to nnedv.org