1)What is your name? Kayla Crooks
2)How did you first learn about W.O.M.A.N., Inc.?
I discovered W.O.M.A.N. Inc. after an incident with my now ex this past summer.
3)Please tell us about your fundraising efforts for W.O.M.A.N., Inc.
During the holidays I decided the office should give back and I felt W.O.M.A.N. Inc. would be a great cause to give to. I then set up a wrapping station with one of my co-workers that had been in an abusive relationship a long time ago and we told everyone that we would wrap anyone’s presents for them just donate what you can. So people dropped in everything from quarters to twenties and at the end of the season we raised $119!
4)What inspired you to support W.O.M.A.N., Inc’s anti-violence efforts?
(Trigger Warning: Depiction of physical abuse)
I was in an abusive relationship in High School and thought that it would never happen again and just last year it did. Everything was amazing for the first couple months and then he relapsed into his heroin addiction. From there it was back and forth with me trying to help and back sliding and a lot of other ridiculous events until the day he was high and drunk then threw me into the door after I tried to tell him he couldn’t smoke in the apartment. From there I saw a flash of white then scrambled to get me and my dog into a locked room. He forced his way in with a kitchen knife, my best kitchen knife unfortunately, threw my 80 lb. dog like a rag doll when he tried to protect me then threatened to kill himself in front of me. Luckily, someone had called the cops and they came in before the situation got worse. I told myself I would never let anyone lay a hand on me in a relationship ever again a long time ago and once this happened I completely cut ties, changed my locks, and put a protective order in place.
Everyone in my mostly male office sees me as an incredibly strong female, physically and mentally, because of this I wanted to raise awareness about domestic abuse. I wanted all the men and women to know that this can happen to anyone, it doesn’t matter how strong or smart you are. There is always a possibility you could get pulled into an abusive relationship, it isn’t always like the cheesy Lifetime movies that make you yell at the TV ‘How can she still be with that guy?! She’s so stupid!’ So here I am, still recovering, in more debt than I’ve ever been in my life, still pretty depressed, and trying to get back to normalcy about four months after the incident. He texted me last Friday after a long period of silence, his usual ‘I love you more than anything bit’ and you know what I did? I deleted it all from my phone and actually went out with friends for the first time in a while and didn’t think about him.
5)What is the impact you hope for your support to have on the community?
I hope that I can be an advocate for change and help people understand that domestic violence is never OK and it is NEVER the victim’s fault. I even had to correct some of the things my parents and close friends were saying because I knew their intention was positive but I needed them and others to understand saying things like ‘Why did she stay with him’ and ‘How did she let him steal over $20k without her suspecting anything?’ doesn’t help anyone. We need to educate people to understand that when someone is a survivor of a domestic violence situation it is never that person’s choice to be abused, whether it is physical, emotional, sexual, financial, or all of the above. We need to ask them to share their experiences when they are ready, and offer comfort and compassion, not blame.
6) Can you share a fun fact about yourself?
I love making things! Whether it’s woodworking or conference room murals, I absolutely love working with my hands… I also have an MBA!