Continuing coverage: rare tour of safe house for victims of domestic abuse
Photo: Video by fox4now.com
FORT MYERS, Fla - The Gateway woman who dodged flames and bullets to escape a vengeful husband says an abusive relationship doesn't have to end like hers did. She hopes her story inspires other victims of abuse to get out.
Bonnie Hohensee says she endured 53 years of abuse because she was too scared to leave. But there's a key, local resource for anyone in a similar situation.
In a rare tour, Fox 4 goes into a secret safe house for men and women seeking asylum from abusive spouses.
It serves about 50 people. The location is confidential to protect those staying here.
The shelter is part of the Abuse Treatment and Counseling Center, known as ACT. Each room sleeps six. There's a common area, playroom for kids and a kitchen. The organization pays for the food.
"Leaving is the most dangerous time for a victim of an abusive relationship," said Christine Kobie, a community educator with ACT.
That's why, she says, the agency helps victims plan an exit strategy.
"If there are maybe weapons in the home, if there's ever been threats," explained Kobie. "What type of threats? If there are children? if there are pets?"
Children and extended family are welcome at ACT's shelter but staff helps place pets. Cars are allowed. And anyone with a job can keep it but coworkers should know the situation to help protect you.
"There is availability [now]," said Kobie. "And when we are completely full we do partner with other shelters."
High-profile domestic victim, Bonnie Hohensee, wishes she'd left her husband of 53 years sooner. She has these words.
"There are people that will help you you don't have to stay there you don't have to be physically or mentally abused," said Hohensee. "If you're being abused, leave. Just take whatever you can take and leave."
Kobie, who shares media reports with her students, added, "I'm thanking her [Bonnie] for coming forward and getting that message out there," she said. "She does have a chance to do that and I'm grateful for that."
If you're thinking of contacting ACT, their 24-hour hotline is the first step. The number is (239) 939-3112. The organization provides free counseling.