Axtell domestic violence survivor helps others dress for success

Posted at 1:12 AM, Jan 29, 2017
and last updated 2017-01-29 11:33:50-05

Some say if you look good you feel good!

And one local domestic violence survivor is on a mission to do just that make other survivors feel more confident as they get back on their feet with Dress For Success.

While Brenda Jackson and Lillian Stephens are all smiles now, Jackson of I Still Shine Ministries remembers the night she met Stephens at a domestic violence shelter in Fort Worth. 

"She came at 7 o'clock with her daughter in and we gave her all the food we had and a couch and loaded it up into her car," Jackson said. 

And Stephens vividly remembers that night too. 

"That was my lowest moment when I ended up in the shelter because police had been called so many times but every time they came I always said nothing." Scared and alone, Stephens had to start over on her own. 

Stephens said her ex-husband was so physically abusive that neighbors feared for her life. An immigrant from Kenya, he often used her status as means of coercion and fear to stay in the relationship. When Stephens decided to leave, she had to find the resources to make a new life. 

Stephens went to school and eventually landed a job. 

"Through a job you get independence, you get self-esteem and that's what helped me. It gave me confidence, it gave me the ability to do everything I want," she said. 

Living in Axtell, Stephens said she's not at a high point and wants to empower others. That's why she's opened Dress For Success. My getting people the clothes for interviews and work, she believes it will increase their self-esteem.

The once abandoned building at New Jerusalem Church has been remodeled into a boutique for those in need to get clothing.  Men and women will be able to receive clothing, shoes, and accessories free of charge. 

Micah Titterington, Director of Outreach and Legal Advocacy at Family Abuse Center, said that Dress For Success is an important resource for women in rural communities that may need some help.

"Rural clients may not be able to get to Waco or have the same access to the same resources. So we're always looking for new churches and agencies who have those kinds of resources," Titterington said. 

Stephens hopes that a new pair of shoes or suit jacket, gives survivors one less thing to worry about, so they can focus on growing.

"You have to come out of that victim mode and realize that nobody is going to change your life except yourself you have to go out there, " she said. But with the Dress for success program you don't have to go alone.

Dress For Success is working with The Cove, Family Abuse Center and other local agencies to pair those to help those in need. If interested you can donate items at 204 S Lake Street, Axtell TX 76624.

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