Survivors of domestic violence share their journeys to a better future

Charissa Mehojah and Aimee Powell reflect on their escape from domestic violence.
Charissa Mehojah and Aimee Powell reflect on their escape from domestic violence.(source: WTOC)
Published: Mar. 8, 2020 at 11:39 PM EDT
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SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) -Domestic violence is a common problem in the United States.

A report by the Georgia Commission on Family Violence ranks Georgia as 25th in the nation for its rate of men killing women.

One Chatham County woman spoke about how she was able to escape her abuser and is now using her experience to help other women.

“Abusers are very good manipulators,” said Aimee Powell, a survivor of domestic violence. “They’re very good at convincing you of one thing, while doing another."

It’s a silent epidemic that makes anyone it’s victim.

“He choked me until I lost consciousness,” Powell recalled about her abuser.

Domestic violence leaves more than just a mark, leaving victims feeling helpless.

“You’re more likely to be killed trying to leave a domestic violence relationship than you are if you were to stay,” said Powell.

This was a familiar feeling for Powell, who was in an abusive relationship with a boyfriend for almost five years.

“It took about a month after that to finally stick to it, but I ended things. He stalked me for about a month after," she said. "One time I woke up in the middle of the night and he had let himself into my home and was standing over my bed, going through my cell phone.”

Powell said “enough was enough.”

“I left moreso for my future kids than I did for myself, I think; because I didn’t want them to grow up thinking that was what love looked like, felt like, sounded like,” she said.

According to Powell, it wasn’t easy to start a new life.

A year after leaving, Powell found out she was pregnant. It wasn’t until then did she reach out for help, getting diagnosed with PTSD.

“I wanted there to be a reason I went through what I went through,” Powell said.

That reason was found through advocacy, and helping other abuse victims in Georgia and all over the country.

“I get phone calls from people," Powell said. "I get Facebook messages from people, ‘Hey my friend’s in Washington,’ ‘My friend is in Texas,’ ‘My friend’s in California,’ ‘How can I help?’, ‘Can you help her? She’s got to leave but she doesn’t know how.’”

In the past year, Powell said she’s helped up to six women escape abusive relationships, whether that’s safety planning, finding resources, even coordinating where they could shower and eat.

One of those women was Charissa Mehojah.

“They will gaslight you, make you think it’s your fault," Mehojah said.

Mehojah left her abuser after three years.

“I threw my full bodyweight into him so my child could get away, and I yelled at him to get his sister and run," she said.

Mehojah drove herself and kids from Texas to Georgia last November, all with Powell’s help.

“One of my good friends Regan was willing to open her home, feed 'em and send them on their way, and so we were able to get her here,” Powell explained.

It’s a sense of relief for Mehojah, knowing she and her kids are safe. She was able to get a job once she arrived in Georgia.

Life is slowly coming together for both women - something their abusers made them believe wasn’t possible.

If you or someone you know is experiencing domestic violence, there are resources.

Call The National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233. Or reach out to Savannah’s S.A.F.E. Shelter at 912-651-0004.

Copyright 2020 WTOC. All rights reserved.