LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX 18) – Greenhouse 17 works to nurture survivors of domestic violence through nature-based healing.

One flower at a time, the gardens of Greenhouse 17 provide an oasis, nurturing survivors of domestic violence like Betty.

“Just being able to walk outside, breathe fresh air and feel like no one can reach me,” Betty said. “Every day that I was able to wake up here I felt better and better and more confident. It gave me more power.”

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

“They come to live in a shelter for a while, rethink their future and make a plan for themselves and their children,” said Executive Director Darlene Thomas. “We are able to use our gardens and our flowers, and our body products as a way for survivors to reconnect with their history, to connect with other stories, to connect with the community”, Thomas said.

In addition to transitional housing units, support and advocacy services, Thomas says they receive an average of 17 to 20 crisis calls per day. The pandemic has only increased that number.

“For me, I’ve been doing this job for over 33 years now. The violence has escalated; not that it hasn’t always been bad, but good events calls are harder, a lot more strangling, you know, attempting to use weapons, ”Thomas explained.

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

In one day in 2019, Kentucky’s domestic violence programs served 1,420 adult and child survivors, while another 128 requests were unfulfilled due to lack of resources.

While the focus is on raising awareness of domestic violence, Thomas hopes the community will take the time to support, advocate and listen to victims.

“It has to be approached from a community-wide perspective; it cannot just be a domestic violence program. It really takes a whole village or a community of people,” said Thomas.
Lalla O’Bryan, vice president of victim services at Appriss Safety, says it’s also an important time to educate survivors about additional resources such as VINE, a victim notification service.
Survivors can track the status of their abuser in prison.

“There are still people who need to know that this service exists, not everyone expects to be hurt by someone, and the more people who know that this service exists, among all other services available, ”O’Bryan said. “It gives them peace of mind. It gives him control. It’s life saving.”

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

  • 24 hour emergency and crisis services (local)
  • Greenhouse 17 (shelter): (800) 544-2022
  • Ampersand Sexual Violence Resource Center: (859) 253-2511
  • Lexington Police Department: (859) 258-3600
  • Fayette County Sheriff’s Office: (859) 252-1771
  • University of Kentucky Police: (859) 257-8573

If you are in immediate danger, call 911 now.


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