Therapist who lost sister to domestic violence dedicates life to helping others

DETROIT – It’s a heartbreaking reality -- Every minute in the United States, 20 people are abused by someone they love and trust.

One woman is on a mission to unmask toxic relationships by creating actual masks and using art to get people out of bad situations.

From the outside, Mary Mitchell had it all -- A beautiful home, great job and a loving relationship -- but she felt like she was hiding behind a mask.

“I felt depressed and I felt like a liar because people thought that I had a perfect life," Mitchell said.

Mitchell’s 7-year marriage ended and she started a new relationship, but soon after, her partner became physically and verbally abusive.

She said it’s the emotional abuse she will carry with her forever.

“It’s easier to have a bruised heel or a broken bone heal than it is to unhear things," Mitchell said.

She turned to art to help her cope. The group, Woman Redeemed, gives women a chance to express their feelings by creating masks.

“How she really feels about and how she really sees herself is in contradiction to how other people see her," said Janie Lacy.

Lacy started the group five years ago after her domestic violence changed her life.

“My sister, Carmen, she was murdered at the age of 19 by the father of her two children," Lacy said.

A therapist who lost her sister to domestic violence is now dedicating her life to helping other women.

In addition to being a counselor, she created a group designed for women with a history of toxic relationships.

Lacy turned her grief into action, received a master’s degree in counseling psychology and became a licensed therapist. She tells her clients to begin with a 90-day detox from their troubled relationship.

She said days 14 through 21 are when clients are most vulnerable and are most likely to reach out to their abusive partner.

“If we could get them through those 90 days and subside those efforts then we can start reprogramming their brain,” Lacy said.

Lacy said having a support system is essential. If you know a friend or family member in a toxic relationship, don’t back away but be present -- something as simple as sending a text to let that person know you are thinking of them.

“She needs to understand that she’s not alone," Lacy said.

RELATED: 12 places domestic violence victims can get help in Metro Detroit

More information on the Women Redeemed Therapy Group can be found here.

About the Authors: