BY TARYN FITSIK
ALBANY, N.Y.--Domestic violence survivors have a new resource to help regain their independence after escaping an abusive situation.
Wednesday, Verizon announced an entrepreneur grant program, which will provide a one-time payout of $500 to $2,500 to survivors, to help them successfully develop small businesses, and get their lives and confidence back.
"I think we have done a very good job at providing emergency response to domestic violence victims, but as we all know, domestic violence is a process," says Amy Barasch, the Executive Director of the New York State Office for the Prevention of Domestic Violence. "You go through a crisis, and then you need to build your life back up again."
A total of $45,000 is now available to help domestic violence survivors do just that: build their lives back up.
During Wednesday's announcement, Damaris Mills spoke of her own experience of dealing with psychological abuse for decades.
"I didn't feel in danger of my partner hurting me physically or taking my life or anything," says Mills. "But the danger was, I was in danger of taking my own life."
But Mills said she made the decision not to give up, and has since graduated from college and an entrepreneurial bootcamp program through the Albany-Colonie Chamber of Commerce, learning the skills of how to become financially independent.
"I put myself into trauma track therapy and just really fought," says Mills. "I said to myself, look Damaris, you have these talents, you can do this, and you can't give up. You have to keep going."
The Albany Art Room, located on Lark Street, is an example of a business started through the entreprenaurial boot camp. Now thanks to the grant money, domestic violence survivors can get a little bit of extra help to make their business successful.
"For someone who already has some complications in her life, that are emotionally difficult or just hard to to deal with, it would be nice to have the financial piece a little less stressful," says Karen Schupack, Albany Art Room's owner.
Schupack says while she is not a victim of domestic violence, she understands first hand how difficult it can be to start your own business, a venture that Verizon's grant money will make easier, helping survivors begin a new life, where they are in control.