Survivor Story: Why I Walk

Lauren Musielak PhotoIn this powerful blog, one survivor shares why she walked with us at this year’s Stand Up & Stride. We are grateful that she and so many other survivors joined us to create domestic violence awareness and to celebrate their bright new beginnings.

WHY I WALK by Lauren Musielak

I walk for myself. I keep my head up, knowing what I have overcome. My past doesn’t define me. I am a lot stronger. I am a survivor.

I walk for my perpetrator. I stand up and stride, letting him know that I am no longer scared. It is my body and I decide what happens to it. He is to blame, not me. No means no, but most importantly yes means yes.

I walk for my ex. For I am strong, independent and free, free of his words, which no longer haunt me. I walk hoping he got help, that he is a better man.

I walk holding hands with my daughter. I hold tight, hoping she will never have to go through what I have. I know that I can’t protect her from everything, but I can raise her knowing what a healthy relationship is.

I walk for her. She was just a child, her innocence stolen. She is now an adult and did what seemed to be impossible, she got help. She now knows that she is not to blame and it wasn’t right. She will have to face him in court, but she won’t be alone.

I walk for the ones who aren’t able to. Every day three women are murdered by a current or former male partner in the U.S. Out of the 1,095 killed each year from domestic violence, only 4 percent of them had used a domestic violence hotline or shelter within the year prior to being killed by an intimate partner.

I walk for the 1 in 3 women and the 1 in 4 men who have been physically abused by their intimate partner. We walk together, to stop the epidemic. We walk to inspire people to help and inspire victims to get help.

Most importantly, we walk for you. You are not alone. You are not to be blamed. You do not deserve to be abused. You too, can rise. You have rights. Your body has rights. You can get help.

We walk to stop domestic violence. We stand up and stride with Hubbard House, because we are survivors.

Hubbard House 24-Hour Hotline (800) 500-1119 or (904) 354-3114

Hubbard House is a full-service certified domestic violence center providing prevention and intervention to domestic violence survivors and their families in Duval and Baker counties in Northeast Florida.


ian-with-giftcardsCoast Guard GMC Ian Keane serves the community by day and, through his volunteer efforts with Hubbard House, also on many of his days off, nights and weekends! What has his experience been like? We asked and he answered. Below, find the responses of the honorable Ian – military man, toy store decorator, gift card raiser, walk worker and all around great friend.

(Thanks, Ian, for everything!)

Tell us about the first time you volunteered for Hubbard House.

The first time I volunteered for Hubbard House, I was invited by a coworker to help sort toys and set up the holiday store. A group of five or six of us showed up, and we were told to turn the room into a winter wonderland. Since I enjoy volunteering and was working with so many fellow military members, we accomplished a lot and the time flew by.

Before I knew it, it was time to leave, but not until some of the staff came in. Seeing the awe and appreciation on their faces and the tears in their eyes made it unlike most volunteer efforts that I am a part of. In addition, we were given a tour of the facility and got an overview of all Hubbard House provides.

Since that first time, you’ve continued to volunteer in a variety of ways: you’ve raised funds, helped with special events, and led teams that help at the holidays. Share with us a favorite memory.

Each opportunity has been equally rewarding. However, my favorite memory actually happened this year. While sorting toys, a mom was shopping for her kids in the toy store. She walked in and was instantly overwhelmed. Seeing her being blessed by the generosity of strangers warmed my heart. Even the coworkers I brought said their faith in humanity was restored a bit. To see the positive impact that Hubbard House and the volunteers have on these victims is priceless. To be a part of that and to show unconditional love to complete strangers who may never have experienced it is so rewarding.

You’ve been volunteering for Hubbard House for years! What keeps you coming back to us?

My love of helping others keeps me coming back. When I joined the Coast Guard I told the recruiter that I want to help people. I wanted to give some stranger a second chance at life, whether through stopping drugs or performing a rescue at sea. Through Hubbard House, you get to see the life changing work that is being done every time you are there. The mission of Hubbard House is also dear to my heart as my wife was verbally abused by her father for more than 20 years. No woman or person should ever have to face physical or emotional abuse, period. I am proud to help such an honorable organization.

We are so grateful to Ian and all of our volunteers. We simply couldn’t do this work without the support of caring people, like him, them, and you. If you’re interested in exploring Hubbard House volunteer opportunities, contact Outreach Engagement Coordinator Alexis (Lexi) Carpenter at We hope to see you around the halls of Hubbard House.

If you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship please call the Hubbard House 24-hour domestic violence hot-line at (904) 354-3114 or (800) 500-1119. Hubbard House can help.

ABOUT HUBBARD HOUSE: Hubbard House is a full-service certified domestic violence center providing prevention and intervention to domestic violence survivors and their families in Duval and Baker counties in Northeast Florida.


Survivor Story: Tami

bw-big-pexel-for-blogTami lived with her boyfriend, Tom, in a remote area of Jacksonville. As such, when Tom began to beat her, there were no neighbors to hear her cries; furthermore, she had no support system, so she had no friends or family to turn to and no safe place to run. Daily, Tami awoke feeling trapped and terrified, forced to face her ever-angry abuser alone.

As time wore on, the beating and other abuses intensified. During one episode of violence, Tami described how Tom shoved her to the floor. When she would try to get up, he would punch her, each blow harder than the last. Eventually, Tom strangled Tami until she lost consciousness. She woke to a blood-chilling threat: “I’m going to kill you someday, and no one will find your body.”

One evening in June, the violence came to a head when Tom dealt Tami an especially savage beating. He bloodied and bruised her body. He broke her nose and ribs. As she laid on the floor, she knew she had to do something. So, she waited for an opportunity, made her way to the bathroom, locked the door behind her, and called the police. Soon, officers arrived, Tom was taken into custody, and Tami was taken to Hubbard House.

At Hubbard House, Tami met with a Victim Advocate who helped her to get desperately needed medical care and a Court Advocate who helped her file for an Injunction for Protection. Soon after, she met with the Hubbard House Counselor who helped her to begin working through the trauma-related issues she was experiencing and to help her regain her self-concept and self-esteem. Days once filled with fear were now filled with art therapy, journaling, gentle yoga and most importantly, safety. She also attended a Hubbard House support group. As she listened to other victims, women just like her, key truths crystalized: the abuse was not her fault, and more broadly domestic violence is never a victim’s fault.

As Tami’s healing progressed, and she felt stronger, her eyes turned to the future and becoming self-sufficient. She met with the Hubbard House job coach who helped her put together a resume, search for jobs, and practice her interview skills. She was also provided with an interview outfit from the career closet and transportation to and from the interviews she landed. Within one month, Tami had a job.

Tami decided she wanted to continue rebuilding her life in Jacksonville. She searched for rentals in the local area and found one she liked, safe and clean, and close to work. She was able to cover the move-in costs on her own, but she had no furniture, linens or kitchen items. Again, Hubbard House was able to help. A voucher to the Hubbard House Thrift Store allowed Tami to furnish her new place with all the essentials at absolutely no cost to her.

The day Tami moved out of shelter, she met her Advocate in the lobby, and they participated in a joyful Hubbard House tradition: the key dance. The key dance celebrates a victim who has become a survivor and who is moving into a new, safe place. Today, Tami continues to do very well. She resides in the Jacksonville area and is living violence-free.

About Hubbard House

Hubbard House is a full-service certified domestic violence center providing prevention and intervention services to domestic violence survivors and their families in Duval and Baker counties in Northeast Florida.

Individuals who are in an abusive relationship, or know someone who is, are urged to call Hubbard House’s 24-hour domestic violence hotline at (904) 354-3114 or 1-800-500-1119.

#YouAreNotAlone: Our Campaign to End Domestic Violence


Studies estimate that every 9 seconds a woman is assaulted or beaten in the United States. For domestic violence victims, the feeling of isolation can be paralyzing. But, change will come if we speak out.

That’s why we are introducing our social media campaign, #YouAreNotAlone: to show support and let victims know that we stand with them. Throughout the month of October, we are partnering with local sister shelters, Quigley House, Betty Griffin’s House, and Micah’s Place. We ask our followers to paint their left ring fingernail purple, share a photo on social media with the hashtags #YouAreNotAlone and #HHJax, and tag us in the photo, so we can share it too. You can follow along with the conversation on our Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram pages. Together, we’ll raise awareness of domestic violence.

What to Say

When someone asks about your one purple nail, it’s your chance to educate them about the issue of domestic violence and the ways Hubbard House is working to end it. Here’s what you can say:

  • Domestic violence (DV) is a pattern of power and control that one person exhibits over another, and it isn’t just physical. (It can include manipulation, threats, cyber stalking, and economic coercion.)
  • DV is prevalent: 1 in 3 women and 1 in 4 men have been physically abused by an intimate partner.
  • This year marks the 40 year anniversary of Hubbard House. They run a 24-Hour Hotline (904-354-3114), an emergency shelter, support groups, and even batterer’s intervention programs to help women and men in the community.

Sample Posts

Not sure what to write on social media? We have some sample posts for you. Feel free to copy and paste these posts on your Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram pages, along with your photo!


  • Every minute, 24 people experience rape, physical violence, or stalking by an intimate partner. Take the #YouAreNotAlone challenge this month, and help Hubbard House, Inc. [tagged] end domestic violence! Details here: #HHJax


  • Help @HubbardHouse end #domesticviolence – take the #YouAreNotAlone challenge: [link] #DVAM #HHJax [photo]


  • #DomesticViolence affects 1 in 4 women in the US. This month, I’m helping @Hubbard_House raise awareness by joining the #YouAreNotAlone challenge. Spread the word by sharing a photo of your left fingernail painted purple, and visit @hubbard_house to find out how you can help. #dv #dvam [photo]

Visit for more information, and follow Hubbard House on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Thank you so much for partnering with us!


Helping Kids Feel Safe through Boundary Building


The new school year is underway, but your children will learn some of their most valuable lessons outside the classroom. One of these is the importance of setting good boundaries. Everyone has different comfort levels, and people need different amounts of personal space to feel safe. When kids understand this, they are more likely to respect others, and to speak up if they feel that someone has crossed the line. This skill can help them navigate relationships later in life.

Depending on your child’s age, you may have to explain boundaries in different ways. Small children will be able to grasp the physical aspect of it – the idea of a “personal bubble” that each person needs to feel comfortable. Everyone’s bubble is a different size, so it’s important to remember that before touching or playing with a child or adult. Older children will be able to grasp the idea of emotional boundaries. They should be encouraged to tell a parent or teacher when someone displays inappropriate behaviors, like manipulation or bullying.

Here are some activities and games to help children of different ages understand personal boundaries:

Preschool – 3-5 Years:

  • Identifying Emotions: Print out pictures of people who show anger, sadness, happiness, etc., and help them identify each emotion by the facial expression or body language.
  • Body Language: Using pipe cleaners or clay, ask your child to model people that are showing different emotions, like surprise or sadness. Talk about how they can read other people’s body language, and how to react. 

Grade School – 5 – 12 Years:

  • Role Playing: Take turns acting out situations that your child may encounter with a friend or a sibling – e.g., when someone takes their toy without asking, yells at them, or pushes them. Model how they should react and the importance of telling an adult when someone hurts them.
  • Personal Space: To explain the personal space bubble, put hula hoops down on the floor and have each child stand inside one. Each person should blow bubbles and try to reach the other players, while moving their hula hoop closer every 30 seconds. When someone feels that the other player is getting “too close,” you can stop the game and talk about boundaries. This can also help explain the difference between “family space” and “friend space.”

Teen – 13+:

  • Relationship Mapping: This is a visual tool that can help teens define who they trust and how they relate to others. Have your child draw a circle with his/her name in the center. Then, draw a larger circle around the first circle and have your child write down the names of the people closest to him/her. Then, draw another circle to include more distant friends and acquaintances. This can help your child define his/her closest friends, and those they want to keep at arm’s length.
  • Defining Values: Ask your teen to write down the values and goals that are important to them in life. Have them assess the different people in their lives, including friends and significant others. Which people help them achieve these goals, and which people detract from them?

At Hubbard House, our therapeutic childcare staff partners with parents to help our young clients develop an understanding of their feelings and needs, to appropriately communicate them to others, and to take safe action to protect themselves when they don’t feel secure. We also help them to develop the skills they need to demonstrate respect for others. Teaching relational skills to children and young people is just one of the ways we are enacting our mission to facilitate safety, empowerment, and social change for victims of domestic violence and their children.

About Hubbard House:

Hubbard house is a full-service certified domestic violence center providing prevention and intervention to domestic violence survivors and their families in Duval and Baker counties in Northeast Florida.

Individuals who are in an abusive relationship, or know someone who is, are urged to call Hubbard House’s 24-hour domestic violence hotline at (904) 354-3114 or 1-800-500-1119.

“If not now, then when? If not you, then who?” – one intern’s journey.

The first time domestic violence became a part of my frame of reference was one evening in January when my neighbor was abused by her partner. I was listening to music and folding laundry when I heard three horrifying screams from an apartment nearby. Those screams sent my heart racing and I became overwhelmed by an indescribable fear and helpless concern for what might’ve happened to someone very nearby. My husband called 911 immediately. It took just a few screams for me to be instantly affected by the issue of domestic violence in our city and world.

The next day I began researching domestic violence and was shocked to realize the disproportion between the prevalence of domestic violence and the lack of awareness about domestic violence as an issue in Jacksonville and in our country. I was comforted, however, to also learn about the local shelters and resources provided for families facing domestic violence. I felt a responsibility to act on behalf of those facing domestic violence in my community and around the world.

A few busy months went by and I learned about an opportunity to intern for Hubbard House. I was honored to become a part of the movement to end domestic violence and was certain that interning for Hubbard House would be an experience that would foster my passion for the cause.

My internship has done just that. Since interning with Hubbard House I am convicted that advocating for those facing domestic violence in our city is a responsibility that we all, as the community of Jacksonville, share.

According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, every 9 seconds a woman in the United States is assaulted or beaten. Around the world at least one in every three women has been physically or sexually abused in her lifetime, most often by a family member. Up to 10 million children witness some form of domestic violence annually. Every dayin the United States more than three women are murdered by their husbands or boyfriends.

Before hearing those terrified screams coming from my neighbor’s home, I allowed statistical numbers and facts like those listed above to remain far from my personal, daily life. I was living as if the only life I was responsible for was my own. But now, knowing someone who has faced the incredible injustice of domestic violence, I passionately believe that I cannot live that way. I am committing to standing up against domestic violence.

Kailash Satyarthi, a children’s rights and education advocate once asked, “If not now, then when? If not you, then who?”


Stop Domestic Violence

As a community, we cannot turn our backs to the hurt and pain our neighbors are facing. Domestic abuse is a daily reality for countless families in our city and neighborhoods today. It does not discriminate on the basis of gender, race, or economic income. It is prevalent in our city and it n

eeds to be stopped.

So, Jacksonville, “if not now, then when? If not you, then who?” Answer those fundamental questions. Realize your responsibility to help and care for the community members around you. Let’s put an end to domestic abuse in our city, in our neighborhoods, and in our homes.

Here’s how you can do your part:

  1. Educate yourself and your family about domestic violence.
  2. If you know or think you know someone who might be facing domestic violence, let them know that they are cared for and that they are not alone. Hubbard House is here. Call the 24-hour hotline at (904) 354-3114 or 1-800-500-1119.
  3. Volunteer at a domestic violence shelter or donate to a domestic violence shelter.

For more information, visit

I hope you’ll join me in standing up against domestic violence.

-Anonymous, Hubbard House Intern


Counseling victims & addressing the mental health needs of our community

Did you know that Hubbard House has been involved in helping to build the mental health capacity of Jacksonville? In fact, members of our staff recently spoke at a state-wide conference regarding the success of our efforts. It is our hope that our successes will help other domestic violence centers in Florida.

A year and a half ago, thanks to a grant from the Women’s Giving Alliance, Hubbard House created the Rise! program which provides mental health counseling to female victims of domestic violence. Prior to the grant, Dr. Gail Patin, Chief Operating Officer of Hubbard House, conducted a needs assessment of Jacksonville and saw that not only did we have a mental health counseling gap, Jacksonville has a particular need for counselors who understand the unique needs of domestic violence victims. Together, Hubbard House and the Women’s Giving Alliance decided to change that. Hubbard House now has a master’s level counselor on staff who  provides trauma-informed counseling as well as training and supervising master level interns, thus increasing the mental health capacity of our community.

Just last year, we provided 1,176.5 hours of counseling to 210 clients. Here’s just one survivor story:

Izydora is a 33-year-old Hispanic woman who is effervescent, full of life, and concerned for the welfare of others. Hearing her story, it is difficult to believe that she could still have trust in others.

Izzy’s mother forced her out of the house at age of 16 and Izzy found herself living on the streets. She was introduced to Mike by friends and while she was not interested in him at first, he charmed his way into her life. They had been dating for just six months when Izzy’s roommate stopped paying her half of the rent and Izzy lost her job. Mike offered to share his house until she could find another job and get back on her feet. From the moment she moved in, Mike began controlling Izzy by isolating her from others. The house had bars on the doors and windows for which he had the only key. When Mike would leave the house, he would lock Izzy inside. He began calling her names, taking her money. She began to see the pattern of Mike’s alcohol and drug abuse. He would be gone all day, drinking and using cocaine. When he came home at night, the nightmare would begin.

Izzy ended up in the hospital four separate times due to Mike’s physical assaults. He stayed in the exam room and would not let her speak with the doctor or nurses by herself. Mike would tell the medical staff that Izzy had seizures and that was how she ended up with all of the bruises. The violence continued to escalate. One day, Mike started drinking in the morning and then left the house for the entire day. Upon his return, Mike began to argue with Izzy and punched her in the head several times. When the last punch sent her reeling to the floor, Mike jumped on top of her, grabbed her by the throat, and started to strangle her. Izzy saw stars and began to pass out. The last thing she heard Mike say was “My face will be the last face you will ever see.”

When Izzy regained consciousness, she told Mike that she wanted to go to her mother’s place. Once there, Mike began to slap Izzy in front of the people standing around watching what was going on. When Izzy got upstairs to her mother’s apartment, she called 911. The police, EMTs, and evidence technicians soon arrived to assist Izzy. The police also gave her a pamphlet on her rights as a victim and in it, Izzy found the Hubbard House hotline number. Izzy called Hubbard House, explaining what had happened to her. She met individually with her counselor and attended groups weekly, refusing to let the events of the last months keep her down. The Rise! Counselor helped Izzy work through her feelings of powerlessness and provided strategies for dealing with the trauma she experienced. Izzy chose to change her job to one that left her feeling more empowered and in control of her life. Izydora is moving forward with her life, feeling stronger and happier than ever.

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“Hi I’m Natasha,” I said to a room full of children, as I pulled up a chair that was entirely way too small for my six foot frame. Children are often humorous, gregarious and lively and this time was no … Continue reading

Sexual Assault Awareness Month

This April, the national Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM) campaign will focus on campus sexual violence prevention. The goal of SAAM 2015 is to support campuses in creating a culture of prevention and effective, trauma-informed response. Everyone has a role to play in creating safer campuses. It’s time to act to create learning environments where all are engaged in prevention.

What is Sexual Violence?
Sexual violence occurs when someone is forced or coerced into unwanted sexual activity without agreeing or consenting. Reasons someone might not be able to consent include:
• Fear
• Being underage
• Having an illness or disability
• Incapacitation due to alcohol or other drugs

Consent initially can be given and later be withdrawn. Sexual violence is a crime that comes in many forms, including forced intercourse, sexual contact or touching, sexual harassment, sexual exploitation, and exposure or voyeurism.

Consent is understood as an affirmative agreement to engage in various sexual or nonsexual activities. Consent is an enthusiastic, clearly communicated and ongoing yes. One can’t rely on past sexual interactions and should never assume consent. The absence of “no” is not a “yes.” When sex is consensual, it means everyone involved has agreed to what they are doing and has given their permission. Non consensual sex is rape. A person who is substantially impaired cannot give consent.

Sexual violence is never the victim’s fault. It does not matter what the victim is wearing or doing, whether the victim has been drinking, or what type of relationship the victim has with the person who is sexually abusing them. For more information about the Jacksonville Women’s Center and Rape Recovery Team, click here.

Myth vs. Fact Information Sheet

If you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship, please call the Hubbard House 24-hour domestic violence hotline at 904-354-3114 or 800-500-1119. Hubbard House can help.

By: Jordan Bebout


76cd796feb7709acfdd85c2c2951292bIf you’ve been on social media the past week, you’ve probably seen posts with #WhyIStayed incorporated into them. The hashtag began trending nationwide after disturbing video footage was released showing Janay Palmer being knocked unconscious and dragged out of an elevator by former Baltimore Raven’s football player, Ray Rice. The incident occurred in February between the engaged couple, who have since gotten married, but the full video had not been made public until this past week. The video of the incident put a spotlight on domestic violence but also caused people to participate in victim blaming – asking what Janay did to provoke her partner and why she stayed with him.

Beverly Gooden, the woman behind the #WhyIStayed, is a survivor of domestic violence and was stunned by the criticism aimed at victims like Janay. After reading twitter posts from users who had been victims of domestic violence, Gooden tweeted her own story and ended it with #WhyIStayed. She hoped that the hashtag would form a kind of community. Within an hour, the internet exploded with powerful yet chilling stories from other victims of domestic abuse.

“Why doesn’t she just leave?” is a question posed by most when they hear about domestic violence. They don’t realize that victims can’t “just leave.” Abusers hold all the power. Victims are scared, ashamed or humiliated and the nation is getting a glimpse into the world of those victims and why they stayed.

Let’s not judge a victim for why they stayed, but applaud them for why they left. Victims should be given support and encouragement, not criticism and blame. It takes strength to be able to leave, strength not every victim has on their own. Domestic violence awareness should be supported every day.

The video footage and trending hashtag brought into focus the prevalent issue of domestic violence. Every nine seconds in the United States a woman is assaulted or beaten. Help break the cycle by getting involved and raise awareness to end domestic violence.

If you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship, please call the Hubbard House 24-hour domestic violence hotline at 904-354-3114 or 800-500-1119. Hubbard House can help.

By: Kaleigh Williams