Pleasantville Activist Fights Domestic Violence

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CarLa Horton
CarLa Horton Photo Credit: CarLa Horton

PLEASANTVILLE, N.Y. - What kinds of wounds does domestic violence leave on its victims?

According to Executive Director of Hope’s Door, formerly known as the Northern Westchester Shelter, CarLa Horton, the scars can be physical as well as emotional. That’s because levels of abuse can range from being psychological, sexual and even verbal.

Around 500 women and children escape to her shelter from troubling home situations each year, where they can benefit from its emergency shelter program, counseling, safety planning, and even legal services offered there. Horton and her team of professionals wants to get the message out that “love shouldn’t hurt,” and when it does, they have somewhere to turn to.

“Call our hotline—you’re not alone. It’s not you. And nobody deserves to be treated like that,” she tells participants.

The safe house for local victims can be found in an undisclosed Westchester community where they are cared for by affiliates of the organization. Leading this organization isn’t just another job for Horton, either—she was actually raised by an abusive father herself, which gives her a personal connection with the women who walk through her doors desperately in search of refuge.

In fact, when she interviewed for the job, she knew right away it was her mission to help women like her own mother who suffered unjustly.

“This is the job I’ve been waiting for. This is where God wants me to be,” she thought.

There are a lot of misconceptions about where and to whom these situations affect, and Horton wants to remind readers that it can happen to anyone. It can be a 16-year-old girl in an abusive relationship with a teenaged boyfriend, a young mother, and even a successful businesswoman living in an affluent area like Westchester.

“Every child who comes through here yearns for the father they deserved and never had,” she said.

Horton's mission to combat domestic violence is not just limited to her work at Hope's Door: she also serves on the Advisory Committee to the New York State Senate Task Force on
Domestic Violence, the Westchester County Domestic Violence Council where she chairs the Human Face of Domestic Violence subcommittee, the Westchester Women’s Agenda, and the Legislative Committee of the NYS Coalition Against Domestic Violence.

According to statistics administered by Hope's Door, the agency revenue has also grew by 316% and victims served has increased by 246% during Horton's tenure.

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