Shirley Speaks is a local Non-profit organization that provides confidential, professional help to victims of domestic violence. Shirley Speaks was founded in 2021. The services are free to victims. Shirley Speaks has had a banner year. Several additional licensed mental health specialists have joined the team. During the past year the organization has provided services to seventeen domestic abuse survivors.
Shirley Speaks continues to grow as it raises awareness of the problem of domestic abuse in the surrounding area. Beacon readers may remember an article published just over a year ago regarding how the Shirley Speaks organization came about. Founded by Danielle Butler the non-profit is a tribute to her mom Shirley. Shirley was the victim of domestic violence. It’s a tragic, violent story but very real. Just over two years ago, on August 28, 2021, Shirley was beaten for five hours. Most of her hair was pulled out and she suffered many other injuries. When her attacker eventually fell asleep, Shirley managed to crawl to a phone and called 911. A few months later, In November 2021, Shirley died as the result of injuries inflicted by her domestic abuser, Mike her husband of 40 years. You might argue that Shirley was murdered. According to Danielle, a history of abuse permeated the marriage. At one point, Shirley and Mike were separated for two years. “We were so happy and hoped the separation would last.” Danielle noted, speaking for herself and her siblings.
Altogether, Shirley and Mike were married and divorced four times. Mike worked as a chef for a living and was very controlling. He suffered from alcohol and drug abuse. Shirley was 79 when she died. Mike was 13 years younger. Before she married Mike, Shirley had had other relationships and several children. Perhaps one reason that Shirley stayed with Mike is that he often threatened to kill one of her kids. Shirley believed him. Unfortunately, as in so many domestic abuse cases, the separation did not last.
Although the idea that anyone would participate in an abusive relationship seems incongruous, the scenario is common. It’s a real thing. Danielle noted that the average victim returns to an abusive relationship seven times.
Danielle referred to such organizations as the National Coalition of Domestic Violence https://ncadv.org and Safe Horizons http://safehorizons.org as helpful resources to better understand victim’s perspective. A few days following Shirley’s horrific attack, Danielle experienced an epiphany. Something had to be done. She went to work to organize a charity foundation called Shirley Speaks to help victims of domestic abuse.
The Shirley Speaks Foundation has a board of directors all of whom are business professionals with interests in domestic abuse. Danielle serves as the facilitator. The foundation offers victims mental health, healing, and emotional services at no cost to victims. Setting up a viable charity foundation is challenging, so is keeping it alive and thriving. Shirley Speaks celebrated a banner first year of success with a Day of Wellness on Saturday September 30th in Sturgis. The event was an informational fundraiser that featured 37 vendors each of whom represented mental or emotional health. Danielle describes herself as “well organized”. She has certainly earned this legacy.
Setting up a viable charity foundation is challenging. As a professional alternative healing therapist, she is familiar with domestic abuse. She is also a successful business owner, published author, and public speaker. Danielle’s first book is Guided Directed and Protected. Her second title is Illuminate the Dark. Both titles are about Daniel’s life journey that includes domestic violence. They are available on Amazon. Danielle is aware that some of the resources for domestic abuse victims are discreet and the average person who is a victim may not be able to locate help in time. She is working on a master list of resources available for the victims of abuse in the community.
Meanwhile, Shirley Speaks Facebook Page can be found at https://www. facebook.com/shirleyspeaksfoundation There is also a telephone number 605.801.0528.