FACT: Not all cases of domestic violence are physical. The emotional scars of abuse can be just as devastating as broken bones.
FACT: Domestic violence is not limited to certain social classes, it can happen to anyone.
My name is Anna Payne and I have been involved with Girls Night Out (GNO) since 2008.
I have been a lead chair for the last 6 years and on the Board of Directors for the YWCA for almost four years. People often think I’m crazy for committing myself to all the meetings required to pull off an event like GNO, but my passion for this cause stems from my childhood. No matter how crazy my life is with three little kids and working part time, I am lucky. I have a wonderful husband and a supportive home environment. My mother was not as fortunate. My siblings and I watched our mother slowly deteriorate over many years of verbal and emotional abuse from my stepfather.
My mother became a model when she was in her teens and worked for Ford modeling agency for over 14 years. She was in pageants, on TV, billboards, catalogs and on the cover of many well-known magazines. Her marriage to my father ended when I was six and not long after she met my stepfather. He was charming and romantic, quite the salesman. In no time at all, he convinced her they should get married. Within weeks he moved all of us out of state and the controlling behavior began. My mother was not allowed to have her own money or any of his and she was not allowed to work or to have friends. He called her names daily. “Piggy” and “stupid” are the ones that stick in my mind the most. Her use of the phone and car was monitored as well. Eventually, for good reason, the severe depression started and her ability to care for her children and home took a backseat. All of this did not happen overnight, but slowly over 24 years. My mother was certainly not perfect, but there isn’t a single person who deserves to be treated in these abusive ways.
There were times where she gathered the strength to leave. She took us to a shelter for a few weeks when I was in third grade. Another time my grandparents helped us move into another house for about 6 months. But, he always managed to convince her things would change and that he was sorry. My mother passed away 7 years ago, still married to him. It is hard for children to see their mother being attacked, mentally or physically. I think she would be proud that I’m strong enough to share her story in hopes of helping others.
I started helping with GNO as a relatively new resident to Charleston. It was a great way to meet people in the community and many of the girls have become like family to me. It’s nice working together with so many women all fighting passionately for the same cause. All of us have a story related to abuse. Maybe not ourselves, but a friend or family member effected. If you want to get involved, check out the many ways on gnowv.com!
Payne's mother (pictured right), a former Ford model and victim of domestic abuse, was a huge factor in inspiring her to raise funds for the YWCA Resolve Family Abuse Program through Girls Night Out.