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Ending the stigma around gender-based violence one survivor story at a time

It doesn’t matter who you are, abuse can find you. It can happen to anyone.

Single mother, activist, advocate, and survivor of violence against women are badges Michele Anew wears with pride after many years of torment, hardships, lost relationships and much more over the course of her life.

For 20 years, she walked on eggshells around the man she had three baby girls with. She tried to avoid it, she didn’t want to be a part of an abusive relationship, but despite her best efforts, it was happening before her eyes. She recognized the signs. She tried many times to get herself out of the toxic home but with children, it didn’t prove to be so easy. Anew had a plan, she would open a bank account, and start to put money aside to aid in her exit without him knowing.

“I was terrified he would find out,” Anew shuddered. “He put his hands on me in a parking lot, and that was my last straw. I knew I had to get out or fight for my life.”

“He tormented me for seven years after our marriage ended with non-stop court hearings and withholding child support,” Anew said with shaky breath. “My lawyer told me the abuse was irrelevant to the courts because I had no proof.”

“I didn’t know where to turn, I was fighting a man who had abused me for most of my life and was still in control,” Anew added.

Those seven years after their marriage ended, Anew described it like she was living in a fog.  Not only was she fighting her ex, but she was fighting the narrative of violence against women.

Her friends and family didn’t believe her.

“They told me he seemed like such a good man,” Anew said with an exhale, “I was the one suffering and I was the one that was looked down upon.”

An art piece.
A painting Anew made while attending art therapy. 

She knew she needed help. After exhausting all options, Anew discovered the Good Shepherd Violence Against Women counseling program. She attended it weekly and listened to other survivors and speakers share their stories. The Women Against Violence Empowering Survivors (WAVES) group was among the weekly speakers.

“When I was first introduced to the group, I was inspired. I couldn’t believe from abuse could blossom the kind of empowerment WAVES emanated,” Anew said. “It was like a release, the fog had lifted, a moment of clarity, and then it hit me. I finally realized my value.”

She knew right away she wanted to be a part of the WAVES group and everything they represent.

Everything WAVES stands for, Anew embodied. She’s passionate about wanting to make a change and help other women find their voices. She doesn’t feel ashamed about what happened to her, she doesn’t hide away from it, she uses it to educate, share resources, and make a difference.

“Working with WAVES has allowed me to find my voice,” Anew said, “And as long as I have it, I’m not going to stop using it.”

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