Pair helps domestic violence victims get a second chance

  • Tue Dec 27th, 2011 9:39pm

By Katie Murdoch Herald writer

LYNNWOOD — Lenora and her business partner, Debbie, are here to help domestic violence victims become survivors.

Whether the client needs someone to go with them to a court date for moral support or a free half-hour consultation with a lawyer, Lenora and Debbie are there to help.

“We help them become survivors,” Lenora said.

The pair, who asked that their last names not be used, cofounded 2nd Chance Human Resource Center, located at 4208 198th St. SW, and a thrift store of the same name at 19800 44th Ave. W,, both in Lynnwood. They formed eight years ago along Highway 99.

When Lenora started advocating for domestic violence victims more than 20 years ago, there wasn’t a name for this form of abuse and few resources were available for victims.

“Let’s not reinvent the wheel; let’s help those who are falling through the cracks,” Lenora said.

Working with 11 volunteers and a board of directors, the duo offer crisis counseling from their Lynnwood office and clothing and furnishings at discount prices to help people rebuild their lives. Clients, male and female, are referred to them mainly from police stations and hospitals in Snohomish County and sometimes from King County.

“Everyone here works from their heart and passion; it’s all volunteer work here,” Lenora said.

2nd Chance helps clients become self-sufficient by offering transitional housing for up to two years and assists them in finding jobs.

“Their self-confidence comes back,” Lenora said.

When victims interview with the Department of Social and Health Services and police officers, they have to retell their stories of abuse, Lenora said.

“It re-victimizes them and continually leaves their wounds open,” she said.

Some of the victims don’t have a support system because their abuser isolated them from friends and family, so Lenora and Debbie are quick to accompany victims through the process.

Also, 2nd Chance differs from other agencies because it keeps tabs on the abusers to help ease victim’s fears. Knowing their abuser’s whereabouts helps victims feel safer.

“We work at holding abusers accountable,” Lenora said.

There’s nothing worse than feeling stuck in the same quagmire, Debbie said.

“It gives them a sense of empowerment and facilitates healing and moving forward,” she said.

The nonprofit relies heavily on fundraisers and donations from businesses.

People who have dropped off donations at the thrift store often divulge to Debbie that domestic violence also touched their family, she said. Whether it’s a survivor or a relative of a victim, people tell her they’re grateful for this resource because 40 years ago such help didn’t exist.

“I see these strong women and they’ve gotten out of a situation and now they’re giving back,” she said.