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LIGHT THE WAY: Domestic abuse survivor speaks to WJCL

Beaufort, SC —

WJCL's Light the Way donation drive continues all week. It's a partnership with local shelters and art galleries to help the community. One of those non-profit organizations and shelters is Hopeful Horizons in Beaufort.

WJCL sat down with Alkesha Willamson on Monday. She is a family advocate at Hopeful Horizons; however, she is also a domestic abuse survivor who has benefited from generous donations in the past.

“I was with my abuser for five years and in my mind it wasn’t an abusive relationship.”

But Williamson said the moment it all “clicked” feels like yesterday.

“[A group facilitator] was going over the cycles of abuse and when I began to associate the patterns of my relationship with the patterns of that cycle, I knew that I was in an abusive relationship.”

While it was more than 10 years ago, Williamson said the Hopeful Horizons shelter helped her and her two daughters escape their abuser.

“It just felt like home. Being at the shelter felt like home. So it wasn’t a traumatic experience for my girls because it felt like home - it felt like family.”

Hopeful Horizons is always collecting donations to give out to the many people who stay with them.

While Williamson said she didn’t need much when she came to the shelter, once she left, the organization continued to help.

“They provided me with toiletries, cleaning supplies, things of that nature when I left the shelter.”

Today, Williamson works as a family advocate for the organization.

Giving back is her passion and she said donations are key to helping people feel somewhat normal when their life and family is torn apart. She also said donations are extra important around the holidays.

“When the community comes together and bridges that gap, it’s huge because a mom can still provide for her family. Life can continue to go on.”

Through her own personal experience, she now encourages people to keep their heads up - even though it might be difficult.

“There is hope. There is a light at the end of the tunnel. And so I would say there is help, there is hope and there are people who care.”

While donations for the Hopeful Horizons shelter are accepted year-round, the donations for WJCL's Light the Way drive will be collected until the 18th.

You can drop off donations at the Tanger Outlets in both Pooler and on Hilton Head Island, the Tiffani Taylor Gallery in Savannah or the Thibault Gallery in Beaufort. All Savannah donations will benefit Safe Shelter and South Carolina gifts will be given to Hopeful Horizons.

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