PINE BLUFF, Ark. (KTHV) - A walk to raise awareness and celebrate survival over domestic violence took place Friday in Pine Bluff.
Tonya Johnson Simmons was there to share her story of being a victim of domestic violence to advocating for other victims. Her story starts off frightening, but ends with a woman who overcame challenges and took charge of her own life.
"He pulled the trigger 5 times but was too intoxicated to put the bullets in," said Simmons, while describing an ongoing abusive relationship.
Simmons' life turned around after reaching out to CASA - Committee Against Spouse Abuse - and retreating to their shelter.
Since then she has worked to help others in similar situations. One instance of helping is Friday's walk held in downtown Pine Bluff, which started and ended at the convention center. Mayor Carl Redus attended and spoke on behalf of the city to fight to end this issue. He said the city has had 3,0000-6,000 domestic abuse calls in a year. He wants to cut down on those cases and put more offenders behind bars.
He said victims need to start taking steps to protect themselves now.
"You actually have to sit down and make a plan. Put together your credentials: your birth certificates, social security cards, identification or anything else you think you might need to move on to be able to start a new life somewhere," Redus said.
Simmons is someone who has made a new life for herself. She is now a stylist and author who works in Pine Bluff. She volunteers her time to CASA and is naming her book after the organization.
The 24-hour crisis hotline phone number is 870-535-2955.
CASA's website is http://www.casawomensshelter.org/ for more information.