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Lexington nonprofit offers nature-based healing for survivors of domestic abuse

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Posted at 5:17 PM, Oct 25, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-25 18:13:53-04

LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX 18) — Greenhouse 17 works to nurture survivors of intimate partner abuse through nature-based healing.

One flower at a time, the gardens at Greenhouse 17 are providing an oasis, nurturing survivors of intimate partner abuse like Betty.

"Just being able to walk outside, clean fresh air, feeling like can't nobody get to me," said Betty. "Every day that I was able to wake up here just made me feel better and better and more confident. It gave me more power."

The 40-acre farm in Lexington allows residents to farm the land, cultivate crops for food, and create beauty products.

"They come and they live on shelter property for a while and rethink their futures and put together a plan for themselves and their children," said Executive Director Darlene Thomas. "We are able to utilize our gardens and our flowers, and our body products as a way for survivors to reconnect to their story, connect to other stories, connect to the community," said Thomas.

In addition to the transitional housing units, support, and advocacy services, Thomas says they get an average of 17-20 crisis calls a day. The pandemic has only escalated that number.

"To me, having done this work for over 33 years now. The violence has escalated; not that it's not always been bad, but the right events the calls are heavier harder a lot more strangulations, you know, attempted use of weapons," explained Thomas.

According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, Kentucky has some of the highest domestic violence statistics. 45.3% of women and 35.5% of men have experienced domestic violence.

In one day in 2019, Kentucky's domestic violence programs served 1,420 adults and child survivors, while another 128 requests went unmet due to a lack of resources.

While the spotlight is on domestic violence awareness, Thomas hopes the community takes the time to support, advocate for and listen to victims.

"It has to be addressed on a community-wide perspective; it can't just be a domestic violence program. It truly does take an entire village of people or community of people," said Thomas.
Lalla O'Bryan, Vice President of Victim Services at Appriss Safety says it's also an important time to let survivors know about additional resources like VINE, a victim notification service.
Survivors can track their abuser's jail status.

"There's still people that need to know that this service exists, not everyone anticipates being harmed by someone, and the more people that know about it that there's this service, among all the other services that are available," said O'Bryan. "It gives them peace of mind. It gives him control. It's lifesaving."

If you are a victim of domestic violence, dating violence, stalking, and/or sexual assault, contact one of the agencies listed below.

  • Emergency and 24/hr Crisis Services (local)
  • GreenHouse 17 (shelter): (800) 544-2022
  • Ampersand Sexual Violence Resource Center: (859) 253-2511
  • Lexington Police Department: (859) 258-3600
  • Office of the Fayette County Sheriff: (859) 252-1771
  • University of Kentucky Police: (859) 257-8573

If you are in immediate danger, call 911 now.