Tonawanda News — “She said, ‘Renee, this is domestic violence and you need help.’ I was mortified — he never hit me — and I thought ‘what are you talking about?’”
Hickey joined the weekly women’s group and after some time realized she was in a domestic violence situation and ended her relationship.
That realization was cemented less than a year later when her boyfriend shot her eight times during a confrontation in her home in May 2009. To her and her family’s surprise, she only spent nine days in the hospital after the attack.
“I walked out of there on my own two feet by the grace of God,” Hickey said, adding that in addition to returning to the women’s group, she started going to one-on-one counseling, something she continues to this day.
In addition to the support she’s received at the YWCA, her children joined the KidStrong program.
“A lot of times when you’re in that situation you don’t have babysitter,” she said, adding that the program helped to empower her children.
Hickey credits the YWCA with giving her structure and the ability to turn her life around. She has been able to go back to school through a Women’s Independence Scholarship, for which she was backed by the YWCA. She just finished her associate degree and is 36 hours away from a bachelor’s degree in business administration at Bryant & Stratton College.
Her free time is spent trying to educate the public about domestic violence, speaking to some 77 classrooms at the middle and high school level.
When asked if there’s one big misconception many people have about domestic violence, she said it’s the one-sided reaction she often gets from people who hear her story.
“They either say ‘Oh my God, I can’t believe this happened to you, I’m so sorry,’ or they say ‘How could you be so stupid?’”