RALEIGH, N.C. — October is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month, and InterAct of Wake County is working to break the cycle of abuse.
InterAct is a provider of assistance for victims of domestic violence and sexual assault in Wake County. The nonprofit provides a crisis hotline, legal services, group counseling, case management, shelter and court advocacy for victims and their families.
The high-risk crisis hotline at InterAct experienced a 30% increase in callers over the last 18 months. A high-risk caller is considered to be a person at immediate risk of injury or death. From January 2021 to July 2021, InterAct served 501 high-risk clients.
Ikeya Williams was 8 years old when her family fled to InterAct seeking shelter.
“My mom was involved in a domestic violence relationship, marriage and we were introduced to InterAct, and we stayed in the shelter program for a couple months,” Williams said.
Williams now works at InterAct as a case manager. She helps with the initial intake of people seeking help and provides up to a year of assistance after they leave the shelter.
“I have been in their shoes, and I know it’s a process, and it's grueling because you had to leave everything you know, but to know that it's another side, it is an after this, you know, from their experience,” Williams said.
An estimated 3.3 to 10 million children witness domestic violence each year, and 30% to 60% of offenders also abuse children in the home, according to the North Carolina Coalition Against Domestic Violence.
Williams recalls the day she and her little brother came to the shelter with their mother.
“I remember when we stayed at the shelter, we were able to get our own room and it was such a big, huge room and each bed had a stuffed animal, and you could just hug it and it felt like everything else is gone away, all bad things are gone away and everything is like so new, it’s like you're safe and it’s your buddy, your best friend,” Williams said.
InterAct recently received donations of new bedding, household items and decorations to remodel their rooms at the shelter. Each room at the shelter has a different name such as Cardinal Room, Blue Ridge Room and Sandhills Room.
The goal is to make the room feel like a safe and comfortable place for those seeking help.
“We have a lot of people that were actually living in hotels, living in cars, living in the streets. A lot of people are not coming from a home, they’re coming from a lot of brokenness. So when they leave (the shelter) they can be like, I want my house to look like this and know it’s possible, because a lot of people don’t know it’s possible,” Williams said.
If you or anyone you know is in need of help, the National Domestic Violence hotline is 1-800-799-SAFE.