By Lee Anne Denyer

HIGH POINT, North Carolina (WXII) — October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month.

Lalani Reaves, of Greensboro, is a survivor of domestic violence and in the years since leaving the relationship has rebuilt her life and become an advocate for those who have also experienced abuse.

Reaves, now a social worker, said the abuse with a former boyfriend started with isolation, criticism, and other forms of manipulation before it turned violent. She was a single mom, with two kids, and remembers how he’d break into her apartment, hiding under her bed or in the shower.

“There were a lot of intimidation tactics that he used in order to send the message that he could find me anywhere,” she said. “I just kind of got used to the feeling of being choked.”

She said she lost track of the number of times she tried to leave the relationship, but that after four years an incident occurred that nearly left her daughter injured. She said that incident propelled her to finally leave.

“I decided I would be an advocate and that I would speak out about domestic violence because the one thing that I think that gave him more power and fuel in the situation was my silence,” she said.

Reaves said her path towards healing now includes being an advocate for people experiencing domestic violence. She recently partnered with artist, Mandie Dunn, to host paint parties to give a space for people with similar experiences to connect in a lighter atmosphere.

“It’s for people to understand that this is a nonjudgmental atmosphere,” she said. “It’s not to say all of my days are sunshine and rainbows, but it’s just that I now have the tools. I feel like knowledge is so important. It’s key to healing.”

Reaves just finished her second master’s degree. She said she is working towards being a licensed marriage and family counselor to help others dealing with trauma and abuse at home.

For information about the painting program, follow this link.

For information and resources about the Guilford County Family Justice Center, The National Domestic Violence Hotline

The National Domestic Violence Hotline can be reached online or by calling 1.800.799.SAFE (7233)

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