Courageous Conversation: Finding Hope in Domestic Abuse

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. -- Finding hope in the midst of domestic violence can be very difficult because part of an abusive relationship is becoming isolated. Although every victim has a reason they think they should stay, survivor/advocate Ashley McCowan told us how she found the hope to leave.

McCowan stayed with her abuser for years; creating a family with four children. Hope seemed lost.
"How can I take my kids away from their dad because I'm abused?" McCowan said. "They weren't abused, so I felt extremely selfish, which sent me back several times."

The same reason she was staying in the relationship soon became her hope for a new life.
"One day I picked up my child from kindergarten, and he said: 'Mom, is Dad mad today? If he's mad I don't want to go home.' At that point, I decided I had to leave," McCowan said.

Shelter Director at Harmony House in Springfield, Sunni Nutt, said domestic abuse affects everyone in the family, and often times parents don't realize the impact it has on kids. She witnessed abuse through the eyes of a child.

"In my case at home, the doors were always closed," Nutt said. "There was actually a little hook-and-eye door closure in my bedroom, and my mom would lock that when she knew her boyfriends were getting abusive."

Although she said she would never be like her mother, Nutt had several emotionally abusive relationships in adulthood. She stopped the cycle after her family and co-workers repeatedly told her she was better.

"So much of it has to do with feeling empowered enough to say I will rebuild," Nutt said. "I will do better. There is hope for me. There's hope for my children, and it doesn't have to include abuse."

"You really just have to find what makes it worth it," McCowan said. "For me, I wanted to be successful, and I wanted my kids to just find happiness in just being at home. Going home to my parents house is my happy place. I wanted my kids to have that."

To see all of our special reports about domestic violence in the Ozarks, click here

More Stories

Latest News

Video Center