An unassuming house. An unassuming location.
It sits amongst other old homes just like it. Cars are parked in front just like every other house on the street.
But this house is different — and not a single neighbor knows it.
This one creaks and sighs under the weight of emotional and physical abuse, under the weight of women and children beaten and downtrodden, under the weight of those escaping domestic violence.
The shelter is unknown to all except for those occupying the 34 beds in the more than 100-year-old home.
Countless women have filtered through the winding hallways that are drenched in dingy lilac paint with inspirational artwork dotting the walls.
The decades-old tiled floors have yellowed with age, and much of the donated furniture has seen better days.
The magnitude of what these women and children have endured hits you like a horrible stench as you enter the door, giving the shelter a depressing feel, pushing down on your shoulders as you weave through the narrow, stretching hallways.
But then the smell of casserole wafts through the air. A child shrieks in a fit of giggles that echoes throughout the home, its origin unknown.
“Hi!” the child shouts. Rounding the corner is the child racing up and down a 50-foot section of hallway, yelling in excitement.
Her young mother sits at an old table and chairs. Her eyes look tired, her body hunched over. She’s been through hell and back. It’s evident on her face.
But hidden behind the glassy, dead eyes, a glimmer of hope shines through as she forces a smile toward her happy daughter. Her daughter is safe now, and she knows it.
Not every battered woman is so lucky.
Almost 600,000 women live in Franklin County. One in three of them is being abused.
This unassuming home is the only domestic-violence shelter in the county: 34 beds, almost 200,000 abused women.
Does Franklin County need more shelters? Absolutely. So do the rest of the counties in the state.
But as federal and state funding dwindles and the country tries to prevent another recession, less and less money is designated toward the alleviation of this problem.
And the incredible pervasiveness of domestic violence continues to be ignored.
Those of us peering in through foggy windows can criticize women for not getting out, but how can we expect them to escape abuse if there’s nowhere for them to go?
Alex Stuckey is a senior studying journalism and assistant managing editor of The Post. Send her an email at email@example.com.