NORFOLK, Va. - Leaving an abusive relationship takes courage and can sometimes be dangerous.
Domestic violence is hiding in homes throughout Hampton Roads.
News 3 is showing how people are taking action for domestic violence victims this Valentine’s Day.
“I remember as a child, every day was horrific,” said Jacque Allen, who is a domestic violence survivor and a independent curator of the Cocoa Exchange.
“My mother would leave the house the same way with the makeup and she told the world everything was okay,” said Allen.
But Allen said the cycle continued in her adulthood in her personal relationship.
And it’s wasn’t until she became a grandmother that she took action to end the cycle of violence in her family.
She knows Valentine's Day can be tough.
“I know for many years I wore a mask. I may have been sent some flowers at work or received some candy at work, but when I went home it was different,” said Allen.
That’s why the curators of the Cocoa Exchange, a direct to consumer platform of Mars, Inc., are donating 100 boxes of strawberry caramel chocolate truffles to domestic violence victims.
“The Cocoa Exchange is all about making joyful memories through chocolate and cocoa,” said Dedra Moon, an organizer of the donation event. “We felt very compelled to be valentines to women that are either survivors or maybe coming out of a domestic violence situation.”
They said they wanted to give a valentine to women that might not have one.
“It can be very sad and depressing. They’re away from their spouses for different reasons, so to get loved on by strangers in the community is rewarding and amazing and beautiful."
Volunteer Coordinator for H.E.R. Shelter Raven Watkins said, “It’s amazing to see the reactions on their faces. I can’t wait on Thursday.”
Allen says she ended the cycle of violence in her family and has a message for other victims: “As long as you have that mentality - 'What goes on in my house stays my house' - that’s what happens; it stays in your house,” said Allen.
Now she encourages other victims to speak out and get help.
Now the group is working on another project where they provide gifts to children who were in domestic violence situations.
If you are interested in getting involved in the program, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.