Stories produced by students in the Meek School of Journalism & New Media
Twenty-six year old Geraldine Kimmings says she was abused for two long years by a former substance abusing boyfriend.
“I was in such a dark place, ” said Kimmings. “I hated the way I looked and everything else about me. I had made so many excuses for his abusive behavio, that I was convinced I deserved to be treated like I felt; I deserved to be treated like nothing.”
It wasn’t until she found Shelter and Assistance in Family Emergencies, Inc. in Tupelo, better known as S.A.F.E, Inc., that her life changed.
“I called S.A.F.E not knowing what to expect or what to say. The moment I was connected with someone I just literally started crying. S.A.F.E got me out of his residence and took me in.”
S.A.F.E, Inc. is based on the belief that everyone has the right to live a free life from violence, and for more than 34 years they have provided services in Tupelo, such as shelter and support to assist victims of domestic violence.
“We offer individual counseling services and group counseling services,” says Susan Naran, a counselor at S.A.F.E., Inc. “I am also the court advocate, so if they needed to press charges or want to get an order of protection I can assist in doing so.”
Naron says S.A.F.E. can also help with medical issues and other practical matters.
“I also have a social worker onsite that can help link them up with the different community resources in the area.”
Naron says last year S.A.F.E. helped about 153 women and 115 children.
“We try to assist all of the victims that reach out to us and safely get them to the shelter,” says Sonja Hamilton, a social worker at S.A.F.E. “We handle everything in a very private matter. Our ultimate goal is definitely for them to stay safe.”
S.A.F.E., Inc. has a 24 hour-a-day toll free number that anyone can call. It’s 1-800-527-SAFE. To learn more about the program, you can also visit the website at safeshelter.net.
Kimmings is one of the program’s success stories.
”I was broken but they gave me the support I needed and encouraged me to love me and live again.”
Abuse victim Geraldine Kimmings asks that her face not be shown.