Travis: ‘There is a safe place to go’

Published 12:00 am Thursday, September 2, 2004

Times-Journal City Editor

About three weeks after she left her boyfriend, Nicole Jefferson, 28, came within inches of becoming a statistic.

Danny Craig, according to authorities, walked into the home where Jefferson was staying and allegedly shot her in the back of the neck.

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Craig, who most likely believed Jefferson to be dead, then turned the gun on himself and committed suicide in

Jefferson’s aunt’s home.

“That’s the scary part,” Nancy Travis, executive director of the battered woman’s shelter SABRA Sanctuary said. “Sometimes when the women decide to leave, it ends with a fatality.”

It didn’t end in a fatality for Jefferson.

It ended in an extended hospital stay. The bullet struck the base of her skull, fractured it and lodged near her spinal column.

Despite the injury, Jefferson was lucky.

“The doctors in Selma and Birmingham said it’s a miracle,” Jenkins said. “God just wasn’t ready for her.”

In 2001, 40 homicides were reported in Alabama as a result of domestic violence. In the period from 1994-2001, 397 women were killed, according to the Alabama Coalition Against Domestic Violence.

Travis’ organization, and others like it, is dedicated to bringing these numbers down.

October is domestic violence awareness month. Travis is planning several events, including a symposium and other activities to help men and women escape violent relationships.

“We want these women in our area to know that there is a safe place to go,” Travis said. “Our main concern is a lot of women are out there in situations and they feel like it’s their fault.”

Travis wants battered women to know they’ve got options, despite what they may think.

“A lot of women are in a situation where a man has total control,” Travis said.

Her organization attempts to give battered women an escape plan, a way out of a bad situation.

“We try to advise women to get personal belongings (birth certificates, social security cards, drivers license) and take them somewhere where they are safe,” Travis said. “You may not ever go back.”

There is good news about domestic violence, Travis said. Fatalities and assaults are declining in the last five years.

“You can see over the years the women have gotten better escape plans and things have gotten better,” she said.

It’s not easy.

According to Travis, many people involved in violent relationships try to get help five to seven times before actually leaving their partners.

It takes a lot for a battered partner to finally leave.

“A lot of women, and men, they think (it) is forever,” Travis said. “They do everything they can. Sometimes it gets to the point where you know you can’t do anything to make the situation better and right and you know its time to get out.”

Despite Jefferson’s ordeal, and the tragic ends of many other abused partners, most people end violent relationships and their lives improve.

For Jefferson, there’s a chance she’ll be able to make things better for herself and her six children.

“Most of the time it ends w/ them leaving and starting a new and happier life,” Travis said.