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Sideline reporter helps Sheltering Wings
Pacers staffer shares domestic violence story
By Brenda L. Holmes
DANVILLE — DANVILLE — Stacy Paetz is known as a high energy, self-confident sideline reporter for the Indiana Pacers. She now shares her personal experience with domestic violence to help Sheltering Wings.
“My purpose with the campaign is to get the word our there,” Paetz said. “The more knowledge we have the more strength we have. And Sheltering Wings represents that.”
Sheltering Wings, the domestic violence shelter for women and their dependent children, has announced plans to expand its current facility.
The shelter opened its doors in January 2002. At that time, the staff felt the shelter could accommodate 44 women and children, which would service the Hendricks County community.
The number of abused women and children has continued to rise in the area, and because of the need the staff and governing body have decided it’s time to raise funds and expand to solve overcrowding issues.
Paetz is co-chairing the fundraising portion of the project with Angela Ganote, a news anchor from FOX 59.
She was invited to tour the shelter just a two short years ago by Executive Director Maria Larrison.
“Walking into the shelter was very emotional for me,” Paetz said. “For the longest time I didn’t share my story. They just knew me as a girl from television with a good personality and character.”
“Maria had no idea I had a personal story until I told her,” she said. “And I have never spoken of it publicly until this campaign started.”
She said her abuse came from a boyfriend when she was still a teenager — a freshman in college.
“First it was name calling,” Paetz said. “And of course I knew it wasn’t right. I knew I didn’t deserve it.”
She said she started feeling shame for allowing this man to degrade her.
“Then he started threatening me and it very quickly turned into actual violence,” Paetz said. “He would threaten to punch me, then he would punch or shove me down.”
She said he would require her to come to his dorm every day to make sure she was dressed appropriately.
“I’ve never been a revealing dresser but he wanted me in sweat pants and sweat shirts,” she said. “He didn’t want anyone looking at me.”
Paetz said she knew what was happening was abuse but lost her self-esteem.
“I felt that I was a strong person,” she said. “I was a good student, a three-sport athlete, and had a loving family. He would tell me it was my fault when he lost control ... and I believed him.”
Her abuser told her if she ever left him he would, “mess me up so bad nobody else would want me. He even threatened to kill me.”
She had a childhood friend who was murdered by her ex-finacé.
“I knew she was in an abusive relationship just like me,” Paetz said. “I would plan for us both to break up with our boyfriends together.”
A friend called Paetz after the murder and said, “Stacy, we thought it was you.”
She said this was a turning point in her life. Paetz had been in the abusive relationship for three and a half years.
“When she was killed it was a major reality check,” she said. “The closer I got to the Lord the more I realized I had the power to make a change in my life.”
At this point, her boyfriend had graduated from college and was living in another state.
“I broke up with him over the phone,” she said. “I kept the conversation very matter-of-fact, and asked him not to call me back.”
She said he didn’t listen and called her “every 10 minutes for the next two weeks.”
Paetz said when she hung up from the phone call to break up she was greeted by her younger brother with applause.
“My little brother was 10 or 11, but he has always had a strong sense of wisdom,” she said. “When I walked out my baby brother was clapping and said, ‘You are finally away from that guy. He was so mean to you. He was not a nice guy.’”
She said her brother knew nothing of the physical violence, only of the verbal abuse he had witnessed.
“Shortly after that I was a new person,” Paetz said. “I don’t even know that girl anymore. It was very liberating.”
Paetz said she would love to talk to teens about her experiences. She wants them to know there is always a way out and there are places like Sheltering Wings what will help.
That’s why she has become involved in fundraising for the expansion project.
“When I first toured the shelter I felt so safe,” she said.
Since then she’s become a strong supporter for the shelter and its mission.
“Sheltering Wings is one of those amazing places with amazing individuals with such big hearts and the willingness and the desire to help women get out of situations they didn’t feel they could get out of,” she said.
“This is a place where they can go not only to feel safe and protected but also to learn that they can be the women they want to be. And live the lives they are supposed to live,” she added.
The fundraising project is just now moving into the public phase where the community is being asked to help.
As of Aug. 1, $2.35 million has been raised toward the campaign goal of $3.5 million. These funds were raised during the silent phase of the campaign. The United Way has made a commitment of $1 million of funding and the Federal Home Loan Bank has added $750,000 to the campaign.
* Monetary Donations — Pledge letters are available online and one-time or recurring donation options are given. Naming opportunities are also available.
* Paver Project — The new courtyard will provide a safe place for the families who live here at the shelter. A total of nearly 9,000 small or 4,500 large pavers are needed to fill it. Order forms are available online or by calling the shelter.
* Furnishing Registry — Once the expansion is completed furnishings will be needed. A list of these needs is being developed and will be available online this fall.