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Metro Centers for Community Advocacy delivers hope

LAPLACE — Renee Tye has no doubt that she is the positive, energetic and confident woman she is today because Metro Centers for Community Advocacy.

The organization saved her life 19 years ago and held her hand throughout the criminal justice process after she was badly beaten by her husband at the time.

“Out of a moment of weakness, while grieving my mother’s death, I succumbed to a vile man’s charm, who at the time seemed like my knight in shining armor,” Tye said. “He walked into my life promising the moon and back, and within six weeks of marriage, he beat me so bad that I had 22 broken bones in my body, including all but two ribs.”

Approximately three women in America die each day due to domestic violence, according to an analysis of homicide data from the Violence Prevention Center. It is estimated that 1 in 4 women and 1 in 13 men will experience it in their lifetime.

Tye found herself in those ranks as she crawled onto a highway at night, wearing only a T-shirt and her underwear. Out in the country without a cell phone to call for help, she managed to flag down a car. A young man who she never saw before or since drove her to the hospital.

A sympathetic nurse slipped Tye an 800 number to a domestic violence hotline. Within 45 minutes, a woman came to pick her up, drove her to University Hospital in New Orleans and stayed by her side through the long hours of the night.

Tye was hospitalized for 12 days as a result of her injuries. Upon release, the same lady brought her to a safe house run by Metro Centers for Community Advocacy, known at the time as the Metropolitan Battered Women’s Program.

The house became a safe haven where Tye started to heal emotionally, physically and spiritually. The advocates stayed with her through the entire process of prosecuting her husband while offering encouragement and love.

“They helped me with everything from clothing and food to shelter and counseling, resulting in empowerment and the positive transformation of my life,” Tye said. “I owe my life, and probably my sanity, to these amazing givers of life, love and service. I am the success I am today because of my strength and desire to move past the abuse, but mostly because of the help I received from Metro Centers for Community Advocacy.”

Tye’s story came full circle last week. Now an advertising sales executive in St. John the Baptist Parish, Tye made a visit to a potential customer at a house in Jefferson. As she rang the doorbell and spoke into the speaker, she couldn’t shake the feeling of familiarity.

When the door opened, the hair on the back of her neck stood up. Her knees buckled and she nearly fainted. She was face to face with Metro Centers for Community Advocacy Director Darlene Santana, the same woman who took her in and changed her life nearly 20 years ago.

Both women shed tears as Tye told her how great her life had become with two adult sons, three grandchildren and a fulfilling job.

Tye will serve as a guest speaker for Metro Centers for Community Advocacy’s upcoming domestic violence awareness event.

“I am committed to help them in any way that I can, by donating my time, and helping to raise awareness to all the women out there to understand there is a SAFE and CONFIDENTIAL place for them,” Tye said. “There is a way out. Where there is HELP there is HOPE.”

Metro Centers for Community Advocacy is dedicated to providing services for survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault, dating violence and stalking. The organization serves several parishes in Southeast Louisiana, including St. Charles, St. James and St. John the Baptist. While Metro has been in the River Parishes for 15 years, a discreet office that opened in LaPlace in 2017 made services more accessible to nearby residents.

Attorney General Jeff Landry’s Office recently shared that signs of an abusive relationship can include: jealousy, controlling behavior, quick involvement, unrealistic expectations, isolation, blame of others for problems, blame of others for feelings, dual personality, past battering, hypersensitivity, cruelty to animals or children, verbal abuse, threats of violence and use of force during argument.

Mark Medina, community outreach coordinator for Metro Centers for Community Advocacy, is always willing to arrange free and flexible outreach and education on breaking the cycle of violence to schools, faith-based organizations, businesses and law enforcement agencies in the River Parishes and beyond.

Metro staff and volunteers are always on hand to answer a 24-hour hotline to make appointments, offer emergency placement or make referrals for survivors.

Free and confidential help is only a phone call away. Call 1-888-411-1333 or 504-837-5400.

More information is available at www.mccagno.org.