Once, Alice was a Tri-Cities woman trapped in a home full of violence – and a life that appeared free of hope.

But, today, Alice is free from an environment of domestic violence – and has a life full of hope.

That heartwarming change is merely one example of the daily difference being made, each day, by Abuse Alternatives Inc., the area nonprofit that protects, counsels, supports and – most importantly – empowers local victims of domestic violence to break free of the abuse.

And, like Alice, find the strength to reclaim their lives.

“The joy of what we do comes when someone out in the community comes up to me, or any one of our staff, and says, ‘Thank you for what your group did to help me,’ or ‘I know someone who got their life back through you,’” said Kathy Johnson, executive director of Abuse Alternatives, which has its headquarters in Bristol, Tenn.

“Those are gratifying moments because it really brings home the importance of the work we do,” Johnson said. “Domestic violence touches so many of our citizens, so many of our communities.”

As does Abuse Alternatives’s tireless work to break the cycle of domestic violence and allow its victims to become free from it – and stronger after it. With seven full-time workers, six part-time staff and numerous volunteers, Abuse Alternatives operates an emergency shelter, a 24-hour hotline, a community-outreach program, a wide-ranging counseling, and education initiative, a victim- and court advocacy network and numerous other services – all while covering a service area that includes Washington County, Va., Bristol, Va., and all of Sullivan County (excluding Kingsport).

During its 2010 operational year, Abuse Alternatives served some 800 clients. Johnson said the need for the nonprofit’s work continues to grow. “Because of the nature of what we do – working with issues and victims of domestic violence – much of what we do is done in a [confidential] way,” Johnson said. “But the effects of domestic violence are so extensive, every day. And the services we offer are designed to reflect that.”

They are services that Abuse Alternatives can provide, day after day, year after year, through the United Way of Bristol. Abuse Alternatives is among the 29 area nonprofit agencies that receive financial and other support from the United Way of Bristol, which annually helps tens of thousands across the Tri-Cities.

Currently, the United Way of Bristol is conducting its annual regional fundraising campaign, which runs through Nov.15.

The theme of this year’s campaign is, “A Good Place to Give Makes a Better Place to Live.” And the United Way of Bristol has set a fundraising goal of at least $1.3 million.

Johnson said the United Way of Bristol provides Abuse Alternatives with nearly $50,000 each year – immense financial support that allows the nonprofit to stay fully staffed and meet daily operational costs.

“They really make it possible for us to provide and increase the services we have,” Johnson said of the United Way.

“But in addition to the funding, our support from the United Way has allowed us to build relationships with other social services that have really been invaluable for us,” she said. “It’s those relationships that also help us get the word out about what we do – and help more and more people in the process. That’s a really significant benefit for us, and we have it because of the United Way.”

In turn, the United Way’s financial and network support has enabled Abuse Alternatives to help women like Alice, who turned to the organization to escape her violent surroundings.

In addition to using Abuse Alternatives’ emergency shelter service, Alice received counseling, referrals for housing, donated furniture and household items – and the ongoing support to move past the fear, isolation, and burden of domestic violence.

And to move towards a better life.

Reprinted with permission by Bristol Herald Courier

Roger Brown


(276) 645-2512

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