A ‘new beginning’ at Genieve

Published 11:05 pm Friday, October 24, 2014

More than 100 guests attended a fundraising gala for the Genieve Shelter at the Hilton Garden Inn on Thursday night.

The event, themed “A New Beginning,” included a tribute to the shelter’s founder, along with words of encouragement from three domestic violence survivors and live entertainment, dinner and a silent auction. Organizers hope it will be the first of many similar events.

Anya Mae, a member of Teens with a Purpose, performs at the Genieve Shelter’s gala, “A New Beginning,” on Thursday evening at the Hilton Garden Inn.

Anya Mae, a member of Teens with a Purpose, performs at the Genieve Shelter’s gala, “A New Beginning,” on Thursday evening at the Hilton Garden Inn.

Theresa Connell, a Carrollton native, started the Genieve Shelter in 1988 in a one-bedroom apartment in Smithfield to give shelter to some domestic violence victims that she knew personally. Connell had survived domestic violence as a child and wanted nobody else to go through what she and her mother did.

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The theme “A New Beginning” was especially appropriate considering the fact that the shelter’s name’s derives from the combination of “Genesis” and “Eve.” The name is also meant to be a tribute to Connell’s mother, Genevieve.

The song “Hero” was sung in tribute to Connell during the program, immediately before the survivors spoke.

One survivor said she went to college and got her master’s degree before getting married.

“As soon as I said, ‘I do,’ he turned into a monster,” she told the guests.

It was a position she never expected for herself.

“You never grow up saying, ‘I want to grow up and marry somebody who’s going to beat me,’” she said.

The Genieve Shelter helped her regain her confidence, she said, and helps with counseling and group therapy. She reported that her abuser received prison time and, after he gets out, will be forbidden from contacting her.

“He can’t send a smoke signal, he can’t send an email, he can’t do anything,” she said.

A second survivor also said her funny, attentive fiancé changed once they got married. He wouldn’t even allow her to have friends, she said.

“I’d be forced to push them away so they wouldn’t discover my secret,” she said.

Two of the most challenging things in her journey were dealing with protective orders and “finding ways to co-parent with a man who would use my children as pawns in a game of manipulation,” she said.

But “the Genieve Shelter has helped to give myself and others hope,” she said. She compared surviving domestic violence to a marathon and the Genieve Shelter as the volunteer handing out cold water.

A third speaker, a man who survived his father’s abuse of his mother and now supports the Genieve Shelter, spoke about the need for positive role models.

“I had an absolutely heroic mother,” he said. “I saw my dad break her arm. How can you possibly have the word ‘father’ linked to an enemy?”

He said he now owns his own business but said his two brothers haven’t turned out so well.

“We’ve got to be the ones that say, ‘We’re not going to do that anymore,’” he said.

For more information on the Genieve Shelter, visit www.thegenieveshelter.org.