Abuse survivors speak out on domestic violence over the holidays

Photo by Carly Willis/KSN

WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – While much good comes from this time of year, for victims of domestic violence, the holidays can be increasingly difficult. The holidays can be notably stressful, financially and emotionally which can be cause for abuse at the hands of a partner.

Nicole Coba, development director for Wichita Family Crisis Center said calls are up around this time of year, but it’s not always shelter-related. It could be safety-planning.

“People want to stay together for the holidays. You want to have a family meal, open presents, you want to give that sense of normalcy and unfortunately, you know, domestic violence doesn’t stop for Christmas,” Coba said.

Two Wichita women know this firsthand.

Kris Gillmore and her daughter Liz Rizo-Febres are both survivors of domestic abuse at the hands of their former partners.

“I was afraid to speak out, I was putting makeup over my bruised face, to hide it from my children and my family members to take pictures in front of our Christmas tree,” Rizo-Febres said.

Her mother, Gillmore, still walks with a fractured back and a broken eye-socket from her abuser.

“It doesn’t go away just because the holidays are here it actually adds to the pressure because people are under a lot of stress and families are getting together and you have to be more creative on how perhaps you hide it,” Gillmore said.

Rizo-Febers and Gillmore have found strength in one another, but they know others may not have that option. Both emphasized the importance of reaching out if you feel someone is being abused, regardless of your relationship with that person. Rizo-Febres reached her boiling point when she realized it was affecting her children and not just her.

Gillmore also gave credit to her mother for helping her.

“I had a family member, my mother, who never gave up on me. Who did her best to talk sense into me and to give me patience. That’s one thing, a person may not be ready, as much as you push them. Have patience with them and don’t give up,” Gillmore said.

They say to not discount inappropriate behaviors.

“A push, a shove, it’s not okay, putting somebody down is not okay. You need a paper trail, even if it’s just one time, it’s better to be safe than sorry,” Rizo-Febres said.

Both women are now safe and in better situations than they were, but not without getting help.

Resources are listed below.

Resources:
Harbor House at Catholic Charities (Emergency Shelter)
Hotline 866-899-5522
Business 316-263-6000

Wichita Family Crisis Center (Emergency Shelter)
Hotline 316-267-7233
Business 316-263-7501 hours
https://www.wichitafamilycrisiscenter.org/domestic-violence/


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