By: Jenna Mayo (Epsilon Zeta, Auburn University)
As a volunteer for the Alpha Chi Omega Foundation and a strong supporter of domestic violence awareness, I was honored when Alpha Chi Omega gave me the opportunity to share my personal story about becoming a survivor of domestic violence. My story was released on the Starting Conversations blog in October 2013. I was so grateful that they chose me to share my experience, but also very thankful and proud to be a part of a women’s organization that seeks to empower women by allowing them to be authentic.
In October 2016, the Alpha Chi Omega Foundation asked me to share my story during the Founders’ Day Challenge and speak out about the Alpha Chi Omega domestic violence initiatives. Again, by exposing my hurt and my heart, it was my hope that my authenticity would help a sister open her eyes and escape an abusive relationship. In that post, I wrote these exact words, “If I could just save 1 life, all of the trails and pain that I experienced would be worth it” – not knowing that those words would actually come to fruition.
About seven months after I shared that story, my husband and I were in the process of moving into our new home, so I joined our neighborhood’s Facebook furniture sales group. I download the Facebook Messenger app so neighbors could direct message me if they were interested in buying our furniture. To my surprise, I had a message from a woman I didn’t know that had been in my filtered messages inbox from October 2016. That message was from my abuser’s most recent victim.
She said that she had suffered verbal and extreme physical abuse from the same man who once abused me. She told me, “I found you on Facebook and then Googled your name. When I found your blog post about being a survivor of domestic violence, it’s like I woke up…“ It was the last line of her message that will stick with me forever, and it reminded me of why it is so important for survivors to tell their personal stories. The last line of her message was this: “Thank you so much for speaking out about him, you probably saved my life.”
I sat at my computer, speechless, and tears rolled down my face. When I decided to volunteer for the Alpha Chi Omega Foundation, I had no idea all of this would transpire. Words are not enough to express how much the Alpha Chi Omega Foundation means to me. Since writing that first blog post, I have spoken to thousands of women and to many nonprofit organizations, telling my story of survival, hoping that other lives will be saved. Alpha Chi Omega gave me a voice when others told me to be quiet and allowed me to be the real, strong woman who I am called to be. The Alpha Chi Omega Foundation is saving lives, raising domestic violence awareness and empowering women, and for those reasons and so many more, I will forever be proud to be an Alpha Chi Omega.