October is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month and to help raise awareness, we’re shining light on a resource Bosque County may not have known it had.
In 2018, Sarina Ozuna and Karath Pruett created a private Facebook group called Abigail’s Place, a safe space for women who are seeking emotional support for any situation they may be dealing with, not just domestic violence.
Their mission is to heal and empower women in various stages of their life through ministry, education, and friendship.
“I was a part of a group a long time ago, and I talked to this girl for a long time and never even met her. But she really got me through a lot,” said Ozuna. “And that’s why we say we’re not just for domestic violence, we’re for emotional healing. We are a women’s ministry who offers support to women who are also going through divorce, miscarriages, or death.”
Ozuna has her own personal experience dealing with abuse, and she said when she needed someone she could talk to, the Family Abuse Center in Waco told her it would be three weeks before someone could meet with her.
“I connected with a female pastor here in town and we talked, but it didn’t really do anything for me,” Ozuna said.
She later joined the church with her son and reconnected with Pruett there.
“Everyone kept saying we should talk because we had a lot in common, but I wasn’t really trusting anyone at the time. One day we finally sat down, and she told me she just left an abusive relationship after about 15 years. We became friends instantly. We told each other everything,” Ozuna said.
At the time, there was no support in Bosque County for women who had gone through an abusive situation. That’s when Ozuna and Pruett decided they had to change it.
“At first we just started a Facebook group and invited close friends and family and whoever knew what was going on,” Ozuna said. As word of their mission spread, Channel 25 News in Waco reached out to them for a story, and after that, the group blew up.
“I have people coming up to me in town, not just on Facebook, trying to reach out to me,” Ozuna said. “I encourage them to pray and to educate themselves. Learn about abuse, about the terms, what a narcissist is, learn the traits, because that will help. Once you realize they all have the same traits, you can spot them easier.”
Due to COVID-19, most of their interaction is done through Facebook. Before the pandemic though, Ozuna and Pruett organized a “Walk with Jesus”, where every week group members could get together to share their stories. They also had Bible study sessions, Zumba and yoga, and a therapist from Waco who did two months of free sessions for women.
Word seems to be spreading in their circle as businesses and residents have started donating to the group. The Salon on Main donated haircuts and Craig’s Automotive donated oil changes, while people around town have donated things like kitchen supplies and even a hotel room. “Eventually we’d like to have a safe house,” said Ozuna. “There’s nowhere for anybody to go if they have to get out of a bad situation.”
Everyone who asks to be a member of the Facebook group is thoroughly screened, and everything said remains confidential.
“There’s lots of healing in the group so we know it’s working,” said Ozuna. “I know what it’s like to not have somebody on your side, so it’s very, very important that even if they keep going back to the same person, you still support them.”
Ozuna also said one of their biggest goals at the moment is getting local law enforcement in their corner. “I’d love for police officers in the county to carry our card. If they come across a situation, no matter how fishy it seems, they can offer it to the woman and let her know she can contact the group if for anything. It’s free. That right there could probably save lives.”
“I want this to be taken seriously,” Ozuna said. I want people to know it’s real and women are not stupid for staying. People need to be asking themselves, not ‘why did she stay?’ but ‘why did he hit her?’”
“It’s not just women,” she added. “It’s children too because they see it, they hear it, they experience it, and they suffer.”
If you or someone you know would like to reach out to Abigail’s Place, find them on Facebook @abigailsplacebc or call 254-435-2858.