Domestic violence survivor shares traumatic experience to highlight importance of advocates

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – Domestic violence is a community problem that advocates across Central Indiana are working to fix. Around the clock, they’re assisting clients in hopes of putting a stop to the cycle of violence.

Cheryl Forrester is no longer a victim, she’s a survivor of domestic violence. She’s turned her trauma into triumph, and she hopes by sharing her story others can heal as she did.

September 1, 2018 was a day that changed Forrester’s life forever.

“This is how I’m going to die. He’s going to kill me,” Forrester explained how she felt on the day she was assaulted and strangled by her boyfriend.

“I was drug from the back of the house toward the front of the house, being verbally berated, degraded, and then I recall being grabbed from behind and thrown to the ground and was strangled forcefully to the point that I could not breathe. I thought of my children, my grandson and of family members in the past for which I felt I was about to be reunited.”

A memory so traumatic that Forrester wants to make sure it doesn’t happen to anyone else, or if it does, they know where to go for help.

“A victim is a victim, whether it’s one time or multiple times,” Forrester added.

After filing a police report, she was contacted by the Beacon of Hope Crisis Center. At first, she declined their services, but ultimately knew she needed the help.

Forrester explained how she felt when attending her counseling sessions.

“Anxiety through the roof. My heart is beating, I have such a painful headache, but I always left feeling better,” she said.

Savannah Tipton is an advocate at the Beacon of Hope Crisis Center. She helped Forrester find the resources to rebuild her life.

“We see the needs everywhere,” said Tipton, “Employment assistance, protective order filing, victim compensation filing and a number of other services directly with our advocates.”

The numbers prove that the need is growing. In August of this year at Beacon of Hope, there were 114 new victims of domestic violence and sexual assault crimes, 20 of those clients were victims of strangulation. In September, the center served 102 new victims and 25 of them were victims of strangulation, like Forrester.

"Strangulation occurs when external pressure is applied to the neck until consciousness is altered; this includes lightheadedness. Understand that this is a medical emergency. The respiratory and cardiovascular systems both may be involved and these injuries may pose an immediate threat to life. Marks are not always present externally from strangulation but it can still be fatal. Months, even years later a person can have a stroke because of delayed developments due to a strangulation incident. Only 4.4 pounds of pressure on the jugulars may compromise oxygen and blood flow. It only takes 15-30 seconds of sustained compression for consciousness to be altered. Anyone who is a victim of strangulation needs to have a CT.  We can help you understand your rights and we have many services to help you get safe, stay safe and heal.  Our services are free and confidential." - Sandra Ziebold, CEO Beacon of Hope Crisis Center

“There’s always more work to do, there’s always more people,” said Tipton, “You can be self-sufficient, that you’re not relying on anyone else, especially people who might be causing you harm.”

“Angry, angry, it’s just simply not right to put your hands on another person. No one deserves that,” Forrester said when responding to the numbers.

As part of October being domestic violence awareness month, all donations to the Beacon of Hope Crisis Center will be matched.

Click here to learn more about the services and help in their cause.

“Violence is violence, abuse is abuse and it’s not their fault,” said Forrester.

The Beacon of Hope Crisis line is (317) 731-6140.

FOX59 also reached out to the Julian Center, an organization supporting victims of domestic violence, sexual assault and other life crises in Indiana.

For resources and help call (317) 920-9320.

The National Domestic Violence Hotline number is 1 (800) 799-SAFE (7233).

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