“When you’re a victim, you may feel as if no one is listening,” said Valeria Smith, Community Domestic Violence Court Advocate, “I want to be that person that they know cares about them and show them that I’m genuinely listening.” She added, “At the same time, I give domestic violence victims the tools they need so they won’t find themselves in that harmful situation again.”
Smith is a Court Advocate for domestic violence victims in Knox, Clay, and Jackson counties. When she isn’t in the courtroom pleading the cause of victims, she is also educating others about the signs of domestic violence and the harmful causes it can bring. She explained in an interview that she is passionate about her career at Cumberland Valley Domestic Violence Services (CVDVS) because she, too, was a victim to violent abuse in the past.
“In a time when I needed help the most and I needed someone to listen, Cumberland Valley was there for me,” she emphasized. “So I try to be the advocate who lets others know they are not alone.”
CVDVS is an emergency residential shelter located in London, KY that provides emergency services (such as: food, clothing, transportation), counseling, domestic violence education, legal and financial assistance, and housing referrals for male/female victims of domestic violence and their children.
The shelter has bedrooms for each in-house resident, a large living room area for family time and games, a dining space for conversation and nutritious meals, a kitchen for preparing warm food and cold drinks, a playroom filled with toys for children to enjoy and a playground for outdoor activities. When victims are in need - case managers, advocates, and counselors are on hand, working diligently to ensure the residents are well taken care of.
“That’s what makes us such a special place… we genuinely love our residents,” said Smith. “When they come here, they are met with love and kindness and we’re willing to help them in any way we can.” She added, “We provide every need they may have.”
Smith explained, it is common for victims to come to shelter without their belongings. So the shelter gladly provides food, clothing, deodorant, body wash… any necessities that one may need.
Once a shelter resident wants to live an independent life outside of shelter - CVDVS takes residents to job fairs, offers a car program so they can save up money and earn a new car, and also can pay a deposit on a new apartment or home.
“Women enter our shelter and they can’t hold their head up from being so abused and scared,” said Smith. “But they leave here with their head up, confident in themselves, and they know they are okay and that they can go on another day.”
According to the CVDVS website, on average, nearly 20 people per minute are physically abused by an intimate partner in the United States. During one year, this equals up to more than 10 million women and men.
“That’s why we’re working so hard to help these families,” said Smith. “It’s more common than people will ever realize.”
If you or a loved one are experiencing domestic violence, you can speak to a representative of Cumberland Valley Domestic Violence Services at 606-843-2022 or you can call the 24 hour domestic violence hotline at 800-755-5348. If you would like additional information on CVDVS, you can visit www.cvdvs.org