Special Assignment

Local women tell their domestic abuse survival stories

CREATED Feb. 4, 2013

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MILWAUKEE – They are two very different women, but their stories are eerily the same.

In addition to her day job, Jodine Basterash is an actress, model, and even hosts her own radio show. But just a few years ago, she was trapped in her home--a silent victim of domestic violence.

“That’s one of their methods--where they try to seclude you from everyone,” Jodine explains. 

She still has scars. “I'm actually suffering from back problems, to this day, because a lot of the times we wrestled a lot and he picked me up and threw me, and things like that."

Like many women Jodine stayed and endured the abuse.

“I grew up without a father, I didn't want my children growing up without a father. I wanted them to have two parents in the home. Sometimes I would blame myself for the things that would happen,” Jodine recalls.

Another woman, Roxie, is now a successful author of a book about domestic abuse. It’s called ‘How Far Will You Go For The Ring?’

Roxie explains, “I think for women we love too hard, and we're too giving, and I think that's when the abuser sees that weakness in us, and they take advantage."

Roxie's long-time boyfriend would abuse her both emotionally and physically—sometimes in public. “I was just really afraid, I was embarrassed, the first hit, I was just looking around like, 'Who's watching?'"

Unfortunately, most people were looking the other way. Roxie says, “They look at victims as, ‘She asked for it, why don't she leave?’"

Both women did get restraining orders at one point.

“It helps with the paper trail, even though it may not protect you initially if someone comes after you,” Jodine explains.

They did eventually leave their men for good, but it wasn't easy.

“Unfortunately it comes to a point where a person has to be ready to leave, because if they're not ready to leave it's really hard to help them,” Jodine says.

Roxie admits it's a constant struggle. “I'm still in counseling. Just as long as it takes them to program you into thinking this is a healthy relationship, you need just as much time to be re-programmed."

Both womens' journeys to healing started at the Sojourner Family Peace Center in downtown Milwaukee.

Executive Director Carmen Petrie says laws need to be stricter, but that's not enough. “Legislation is good at the crisis piece, and new legislation may be the key to keeping more people safe, but we also need prevention.   We need to get to young people earlier, before they get into relationships."

The good news:   There are other success stories like Jodine and Roxie, and both women are making it their mission to spread that message.

“Oh my gosh. Life is amazing! I wish I would have done it, you know, gotten out of the relationship you know, a lot sooner than I did,” Jodine beams.

Roxie adds, "I just want to tell women, you can do it! You can do it, life is so much better on the other side."

Advocates remind us that domestic violence is a community health issue. It's important that friends, neighbors, and family members speak out when they think someone is being abused.