Help for battered and abused women and children is closer now for families in rural Suwannee County.
A shelter there is expanding its space and its reach. Domestic violence shelter "Vivid Visions" is doubling in size. Advocates say the news couldn't have better timing as it coincides with Domestic Violence Awareness Month.
"Ann" said, "Nineteen years of mental and physical abuse. I just don't want it anymore. Life is too short for me. I want to live out my life being happy, being able to see my sister, being able to see my children. He's such a controller."
This 67-year-old woman has endured years of pain caused by her mate. She's now found the courage to leave her situation and is getting the support she needs from Vivid Visions, Incorporated, Suwannee County's certified domestic violence center and shelter.
It provides counseling, food, and shelter for women and children in need of safe refuge as a result of domestic violence.
Jennie Lyons, executive director of Vivid Visions, Inc., said, "We are completely rehabbing the current center. We're doubling the size, the bed space and the square footage. We're going from nine beds to 18 beds. We're also building a large children's room."
A symbolic groundbreaking ceremony for the expansion was held at the train depot to keep the shelter's location confidential.
Lyons says the new 3,200-square-foot building will provide more space to help more people like "Ann."
"Ann" added, "Without them I don't know where I would be. I'd probably go back to him, without them I probably would. He would talk me into it and I probably would go back, but not this time. It's over, it's over, it's over."
"Ann" is just one of the more than 70 women and children Vivid Visions has helped within the past year. The expansion is funded by a capital improvement grant through the Department of Children and Families.
They are hoping to have the renovations complete in December. If anyone needs their assistance at any time they can call the hotline at 386-364-2100.