• Kimberly Dunham

What you see...

I am a daughter, mom, sister, friend, co-worker, and child of God.

I have a master's in human resource management and a bachelor's degree in business administration. I graduated Summa Cum Laude while raising seven children as a single parent.

I worked for 32 years in corporate America as an executive assistant, event planner, onboarding program manager, talent management specialist, and entrepreneur of 3 businesses (virtual assistant, fractional HR manager, and a life coach).

However, what you don't see and don't know is that I am a survivor of domestic violence and sexual assault. October is recognized as National Domestic Violence Awareness Month - DVAM.

1 in 4 women and 1 in 7 men will suffer from some form of violence in a relationship during their lifetime. And during this pandemic, there has been a rise in the number of cases reported and unreported as victims have been sequestered with their offenders more than ever before.

Domestic violence knows no bounds. It is no respecter of race, gender, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, or occupation.

During my time as a domestic violence victim, I was an executive assistant at a Fortune 500 company, I transitioned to a stay-at-home mom, and then to an entrepreneur. All the while, I was hiding the fact that I was being psychologically, emotionally, and physically abused.

My family and friends knew nothing of the fear we lived in or the control that my husband had over us during this time. When I did finally speak up, I was met with silence, walls were put up, and disbelief was apparent. I even had someone tell me to suck it up and live with it. I eventually had a psychotic break in which I almost killed my abuser while he slept which caused me to seek professional help.

God paved the way for me to be connected with an attorney who helped me with my legal affairs to get a protective order, keep my house and kids, and get counseling help through the YWCA.

It has been 14 years since I escaped from the 5 1/2 years of hell that was my life, and I give thanks for every single year. I celebrate my victory from the isolation, degradation, verbal and physical abuse, feelings of self-loathing, and unworthiness. Had it not been for God's timing and intervention I don't know where I would be today.

You see, I never saw it coming. It snuck up on me like a snake slithering through the grass. It started off with little things which then grew bigger and bigger until I realized what was happening but was trapped, beaten down, and had no fight left in me until it turned from just me to include the kids.

If you know a mother bear then you know you better not mess with her cubs. Well, that was me. My babies meant more to me than I meant to myself and so I had to fight. I had to escape. I had to survive.

It has been an uphill battle, not without its trips and falls. Setbacks and disappointments. Struggling to support a family of seven on one salary and balance work and life was not an easy task but God positioned the right people at the right time, and I have never been alone. I've had advocates and angels who listened, helped with the kids, brought food, clothes, gas, oil, and serviced my car to keep me going.

Mine is not a typical story though. Most women are afraid to leave for fear of their safety and that of their children. They often run the risk of losing their children if they leave their homes and are isolated and cut off from friends and family, so they have no support system. Lack of transportation, money, important documents, and knowledge of where to find help often leave victims feeling stuck and defeated.

We must break the silence and spread the word about resources in the community. We need more organizations that will help, safe houses for families at risk and education for victims and society at large. Who knows, your neighbor

could be experiencing this, but would you even know what to look for? How to ask? What to ask?

Here I stand ready, willing, and asking for the opportunity to assist in making this come to pass. What are you going to do?

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