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Hope's Door Aims To Erase Stigma Of Domestic Abuse

Jennifer Ryan Sasfel and CarlLa Horton of Hope's Door.
Jennifer Ryan Sasfel and CarlLa Horton of Hope's Door. Photo Credit: Jennifer Ryan Safsel

PLEASANTVILLE, N.Y. -- A Pleasantville organization helps women (and men) deal with the physical, mental and emotional effects of domestic abuse.

Hope’s Door seeks to end domestic violence and to empower victims to achieve safety, independence, and healing from the trauma of abuse.

The organization was founded in 1980 as the Northern Westchester Women's Shelter before changing its name to Hope's Door in 2009. The organization maintains a 16-bed shelter.

"Anyone can be a victim of domestic abuse," CarlLa Horton, executive director of Hope's Door, said. "We have people who come to us who have never made more than $10 an hour and people who come to us with incomes well above $5 million."

Hope's Door offers one-on-one intervention, counseling, support groups, legal advocacy and services to help children living with violence at home and parents dealing with domestic abuse.

Hope's Door has also has two teen educators who speak to high school and middle school students to promoting healthy relationships. According to one study, 1 in 5 girls report being physically or sexually abused before they graduate high school..

"Breaking the silence is key," Horton said. "Abusers are protected in secrecy and they know that. The victim is more ashamed than the perpetrator. Victims need to speak the truth about what happened. It's really important they get the emotional, medical or physical support they need."

Hope's Door says it is key that friends and families of victims know what to say. Saying "why don't you just leave," can have potentially dangerous questions. Horton said people should express their concern and give them the number of Hope's Door to have someone talk to.

"Many times you will face resistance, but tell them 'I understand that's what you tell me now, I wish you could believe I could help you," Horton said. "These things tend to get worse over time. Don't bail on your friends. Victims are often not ready to give up on the dream of marriage, or having the perfect husband, father, or family. They want that happily ever after."

For more information on Hope's Door, visit . Hope's Door's 24-hour hotline is 888-438-8700.

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