By Kelsey Smith
Nation Valley News
WINCHESTER — Women were the centre of attention yesterday as Naomi’s Resource Centre held their annual International Women’s Day luncheon celebration. The event was held at St. Clare’s Anglican Church in Winchester with nearly 100 people in attendance.
The lunch was kindly catered and served by many volunteer women of the St. Clare’s congregation.
After the plentiful soups, sandwiches, veggies, and more were served, Jeannette Stoll captivated the room with her heart-wrenching story of abuse.
Stoll began by recounting the 10 years of horror she spent with her ex-husband.
This was the first time Stoll ever spoke publicly about her “wife abuse” as she called it.
“The first time he hit me he accused me of stealing his wallet and throwing it in the pond,” Stoll recalled. He left her with a black eye and a bulge on her head.
His abuse tactics quickly escalated.
The second time he hurt her he “tried to run me into a steel building with his car” because she didn’t answer the phone when he called.
It was the third big incident that caused her to change her life forever.
There was a pot of water boiling on the stove. Out of pure rage and anger he grabbed it and threw it all over her, causing horrific burns to her hands, arms, shoulders and back. She thankfully avoided damage to her face by turning it just in the knick of time.
“To this day I cannot stand Kraft Dinner! I do not like the smell of it cooking. I do not allow it in my house at all!” she said.
The wounds were so deep that she “could peel the skin off my shoulder instantly.”
Stoll made trips to the hospital for the next 10 days to have the dressings changed.
“He abused not only my body but my mind as well,” she explained.
By this point in her relationship with him she was down to 62 pounds and really thought she was dying.
The second the hot water hit her skin was the second she decided she was going to leave him … for good.
“I’m a fighter. I can do this because I have to. I will be strong if only for me myself, and I,” her powerful words rocked the room.
Stoll began to slowly pack her cherished belongings and hiding them.
She relied on friends of hers to help her leave. These were friends he knew nothing about.
“I was so broken when they came to get me that they didn’t even recognize me. I went from 140 pound me to 62 pound me.”
Her friends drove her to a shelter where she finally felt safe.
“When I was in the women’s shelter, that was the first time I felt safe in 10 years.”
Stoll then described the hurt, terror, and loss of control abuse victims go through.
“If he’s not happy your life becomes a living hell. Your life becomes a warzone. And I mean a warzone.”
“Your life is a minefield.”
Stoll spoke to the crowd about how we all play a role in ending abuse.
“We all must be proactive. Each one of us needs to have a voice. That’s the only way!”
“When you stop the silence he no longer has a hold on you,” she concluded.
Her story moved the crowd to tears.
Visitors were handed single purple roses generously donated by The Planted Arrow in Winchester, on their way out.
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