DETROIT – October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month.
In 2019, more than 57,000 domestic violence incidents were reported to police in Michigan. It’s expected that many more incidents went unreported.
Nakira Howard, from Detroit, is sharing her experience with domestic violence to encourage others who are dealing with abuse to step forward and ask for help.
“I’m not a survivor. I’m surviving,” Howard said. “I cannot even begin to describe the feeling of falling onto the floor, inches away from the stairs and the TV stand and opening my eyes to see my daughter standing there. Standing there confused and scared because her father, her hero, was choking her mother.”
Howard gave a statement when her former partner was sentenced for domestic violence in August. He was sentenced to one year of probation and still spends time with their daughter, Nova.
Howard said an incident of abuse happened in January of this year. She said that incident was not the only one. The couple broke up in 2015, but still saw each other because of Nova. Howard said her daughter witnessing the violence was a wake up call for her to get help.
“I don’t know if she knows that she saved me, that she saved my life,” Howard said.
Howard obtained a personal protective order after the assault. Even though she has insurance, she still had $2,000 in medical bills after the attack. Michigan’s Division of Victim Services got her compensation for those bills.
“As a victim, you don’t know these things right off hand. These aren’t resources that you have, we have those resources,” Shalonna Banks, the division’s safe response coordinator, said.
Howard is one of many who have received support.
“If we can connect you with a program in your area or your county, that’s what we’re here for,” Banks said.
Banks and Howard want victims and survivors to know they are not alone.
“You are enough. You do not deserve it and it is not your fault. Seek the help,” Howard said.
The Michigan Division of Victim Services has a navigator program in certain counties like Wayne County. There are people in the prosecutor’s office who work directly with victims on compensation applications.