Paula told me her story. It started out as a love story; girl meets boy. They got married and moved to his home in the Middle East. Everything was okay and they even had children. But on the inside the marriage was marred and damaged by domestic abuse.
Finally, in 1999, Paula fled with her children back to the United States. Unfortunately, it would take years of court battles, hiding and continued abuse before Paula and her family were safe. During that time she was confused about laws and sometimes could not find the help that she so desperately needed.
Out of her story, the American Domestic Violence Crisis Line was born. The crisis line is a nonprofit organization, which helps Americans living abroad who are experiencing domestic violence or child abuse.
It is the mission of The American Domestic Violence Crisis Line to serve Americans being abused in foreign countries.Our crisis line number is toll free internationally by calling the local AT&T operator from the country you are living in and asking to be connected to 866-USWOMEN . . .The American Domestic Violence Crisis Line, 866-USWOMEN, is the only international toll free domestic violence crisis line serving abused American women and children in both civilian and military populations overseas.
The work that they do is AMAZING! They offer three different kinds of services: outreach, safety planning, and support services. Being an American abroad can sometimes be a very isolating experience. Those that are experiencing domestic violence are even further isolated by feelings of fear and shame, which is what makes the crisis line so important.
When I met Paula, I asked here where most of the callers come from, and I was surprised by her answer. Although the most shocking cases are from the Middle East, most callers are actually located in Europe. I was stunned. I know so many American women married to Germans. Although we seem so happy, you never know what your friend is going through.
If you know an American living abroad who is in this situation please pass on this information. There is help available. Also, if you can, be sure to donate. Nonprofits such as this cannot do it alone.
The crisis line will also be visiting Germany in October to do training for individuals who would like to volunteer. Be sure to check my blog and their website for updates if your are interested.
As I looked through the site, I found this link, from a Today show appearance from May 2007. Click on the picture to open the video. It is something to think about.
A mother and a hero