Survivor & daughter inspire others, Paint The Town Purple

Survivor & daughter inspire others through art

Kailee and her mom, Patricia, love coloring and creating art together.  

So much so, they decided to collaborate on a very important project that Patricia discovered on Facebook.

It was a poster contest for the domestic violence shelter, Sunrise of Pasco County.

"We decided to create this campaign where we are asking local businesses to put the poster out on display in their window and have some information inside, with candies, about healthy relationships," said Michelle Crowder-Soellner of Sunrise.

The theme of the contest was "Paint The Town Purple."  Purple is the color that represents domestic violence awareness.

"I just wanted to play around with it, and just hopped on Google image search and started looking for some paintings of a purple town and found one that I liked and decided to combine that with a woman making a painting on a sidewalk and once I put the two together it was amazing how awesome it turned out," said Patricia.

Kailee, 8, wanted to make a poster too.

She decided to make a town of little kids playing hopscotch.

So Patricia submitted both.

"They selected hers to go along with mine and I thought that was incredible," said Patricia.

Through Facebook votes and a committee decision, Patricia and Kailee's submissions were the clear winners.

"Hands down, Patricia's submission received way more views and likes than all of the other ones.  And of course, her daughter's did as well because people thought t it was so cool that a kid contributed one," said Crowder-Soellner.

What shelter workers didn't realize at the time was that Patricia and Kailee were no strangers to them.

"Actually I've known Sunrise for maybe 9 or 10 years when I was in a relationship with my daughter's father. There were some times when I didn't feel safe to be home," said Patricia.

During one of those volatile times, Patricia knew she had to get her and her then toddler out of the house.

"The first time my daughter's father was drinking heavily and throwing things and I didn't feel safe. My daughter was only two and I was just really scared," said Patricia.  "He was arrested for domestic violence, but I knew he would only be in jail for a few days so I wanted to be somewhere safe by the time he got home and so I called Sunrise and they found a spot and took us in, myself and my daughter."

But then, she said, he convinced her to go back to him.

"After he got out of jail, he was writing me letters and telling me that everything was going to change.  He promised he wasn't going to drink anymore. Everything was going to be different. He loved me and my daughter and promised not to do it again", Patricia said.

The couple had another child and as Kailee got older, she started to witness the violence towards her mother. "I always saw fighting and yelling and throwing chairs or throwing glasses and I heard always yelling and I was thinking, why does he always have to yell at Mommy? What did she do wrong?", said Kailee.

The little girl tried to comfort her mother. "I said are you ok? Did I do anything wrong? Is there any way I can help you?"

At this time, Patricia and her girls were living out of state and away from Sunrise.

With no family and friends nearby, Patricia felt like she had nowhere to turn. "I remember one day I was crying, I was just so heartbroken and I just couldn't take it anymore," said Patricia.

And neither could Kailee, who told her mother "I don't want to see you crying anymore. Why don't you just leave?"

A week later, Patricia packed up her girls, left and never looked back. She got a permanent domestic violence injunction against Kailee's father. She took the girls back to Florida and temporarily moved into the shelter at Sunrise.

 Patricia eventually met a man who she says turned out to be her real Prince Charming.

They added a brother for Kailee and her sister. Patricia says her children now have a good example at home of a healthy relationship.

"Now she sees what it's supposed to be like because every day he tells me how beautiful he thinks I am and every day, he comes home and asks me how was my day and we have dinner together as a family."

Patricia is giving back to Sunrise by volunteering and helping women who find themselves in a situation like she had. "Women need to be able to know that they can speak up for themselves and ask for help if you need it.

 Help is there and you don't have to be ashamed or embarrassed.

So we can somehow put a stop to that cycle that I hope my daughter never goes through that stuff that I did as a woman.

She can take away from this that it's not the way a man is supposed to treat a woman."

And Kailee has some wise words of her own for children like her. "You should be helping the mom figure out her decisions", said Kailee, "if someone is hurting you, you should always tell somebody and they can help you get away from that person."

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