There are several niche communities that together make up what we call Deer Valley. Our goal this month is to bring all of these little individual communities together.

October is National Domestic Violence Awareness month.

Seven years ago I walked away at 2:25 am with a suitcase, an emergency restraining order, cuts, bruises and a police escort. I landed at a friend’s house where I stayed until I got a new apartment and rebuilt some self-esteem. For 6 months, I spent 5 days a week in support groups learning how to never go back. And I never have.

I sat with women who were planning their escapes with their children, women in hiding, women who just couldn’t walk away yet and were mired in abuse. Countless women and children are unable to leave for a multitude of reasons. My story could be your story, your neighbor’s, your teacher’s or your cousin’s. Some of you may be reading this and wondering if you are in an abusive relationship. You may not know what to do.

I’m proud to say that the Deer Valley Times is working closely with our community to donate a list of needed items to the Sojourner Center, a local domestic violence shelter with three campuses, 280 beds and 32 transitional apartments. Please turn to page 13 for a list of needed items and drop off locations. We have 13 local businesses acting as official drop off places helping to collect donated items throughout the month of October. Deer Valley Times will then collect these items and donate them to the Sojourner Center. We encourage the entire Deer Valley community to participate and donate to this cause, and help these women and children move forward to the next stage of their life.

If you or someone you know needs help, please call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233), or the Arizona Coalition Against Domestic Violence 1-800-782-6400. If you need a shelter, Maricopa County created a single, centralized screening number that DV victims can call to find immediate placement at any shelter. That number is 480-890-3039 (24 hours a day).

IN AN EMERGENCY CALL 911

If you need someone to talk to, my e-mail is heidi@deervalleytimes.com. Thanks to all of you for your support.