Ex-Omahan who saw dad beat mom wants other victims to know: You can heal too - Omaha.com
Published Wednesday, October 9, 2013 at 1:00 am / Updated at 1:46 am
Ex-Omahan who saw dad beat mom wants other victims to know: You can heal too
If you go
What: Showing of “The Children Next Door,” a movie about the effect of domestic violence on children, with a panel discussion afterward

Sponsor: Omaha’s Domestic Violence Council

Where: Mammel Hall in Aksarben
Village, 6708 Pine St.

When: 6:30 p.m. Thursday

Who: Panelists will include Brian F. Martin, producer of the film and founder of Children of Domestic Violence, an advocacy group; Heather Duhachek of Generation Hope Counseling; Ryan Alan Suhr of Lutheran Family Services; and Renesia Martin, a former Creighton University basketball player who now is a State Farm Insurance executive and the author of a book about her family’s abuse story.

Tickets: $25 at dvccomaha.org; a private reception with Brian Martin and Renesia Martin, who are not related, is at 5:30 p.m. and costs $75.

When kids see one parent abuse the other, it's traumatic.

Former Omahan Renesia Martin, 45, knows that all too well. She says she needed years of therapy as an adult to deal with the fallout from seeing her dad beat her mother.

Martin now says she's healed and whole, has participated in family therapy and has a good relationship with her father, who is “night and day different” and remorseful. Martin divorced after a 14-year marriage.

She wants other victims — those who were abused and those who had to watch — to know they can heal too.

Martin is a former Creighton University basketball player who now is a corporate executive with State Farm Insurance in Bloomington, Ill.

Last year, she wrote a book about her experiences, “Don't Hit My Mama!” She's returning to Omaha on Thursday night for a screening of “The Children Next Door,” a documentary about kids who witness domestic violence. She'll tell her story after the movie and participate in a panel discussion.

In an interview, she answered questions about her volunteer work as an advocate, what people can do to help and what everyone should know about domestic abuse.

Q. Why are you coming to this event?

To help provide awareness and support and to encourage others, to let them know that you can overcome childhood domestic violence. I want to be a role model and a voice for those who don't have a voice. There's very little out there about children becoming victims when they witness domestic violence.

Q. How did the book come about?

I felt really called to write about domestic violence. It seemed like the book wrote itself. It was part of my purpose in life. It was almost like I could hear kids crying and saying, “We need you to tell our stories.”

Q. You achieved despite what happened. How did you go to college?

I got a full athletic scholarship. Coach Butch Rasmussen (now CU athletic director) recruited me out of high school. He was there for me. I also had gotten a lot of encouragement from teachers. Those small acts of kindness gave me just enough hope to hold on to go to the next step.

Q. You got a full college scholarship and now have a top position in your company. You seem to have been driven.

There was always something inside of me, the voice of God possibly. If you keep doing the right thing, I thought, if you keep moving forward, there will be hope.

Q.What do people need to know about domestic violence?

That you can break the cycle. It's really important for anyone in the cycle to know that they are worth a good life and feeling good about themselves. You also need to remember that children know more than you think, and you're creating lifelong memories for them.

Q. If you know an abuse victim, what should you do?

Recommend that they get help from a professional, an organization, and make a safety plan to start the process (of leaving) so that when they leave, they really leave. Call a domestic violence hotline.

Don't encourage people to leave. Let them come to that themselves. Educate them about their options. If you make the decision for them, they won't have enough courage.

Q. Are you in a relationship now?

For the past few years, I've just been focusing on the book, my career and being the best that I can be. I'd love to be in a healthy relationship and to be married again. That would be my heart's desire.

Contact the writer: Betsie Freeman

elizabeth.freeman@owh.com    |   402-444-1267

Betsie Freeman is a reporter covering social services, philanthropy and other topics.

Read more related stories
Police ID body found near 36th, Seward Streets
Agreement reached to end dog racing at Bluffs Run at end of 2015
World champion Crawford's promoter working to have title defense at CenturyLink Center
Hail, strong winds, heavy rain hit south-central Nebraska
Video: Stothert says Crossroads project is 'full speed ahead,' but she won't support bond issue
'Fairly old' human skull found in Mills County
Kelly: Started at a dining room table, Home Instead thriving at 20 with $1B in annual revenue
Omaha crash victim, 19, had touched many lives
Firefighters take on 'fully engulfed barn fire'
Council Bluffs school board approves new district headquarters
Officials announce effort to lure more veterans to Nebraska
SB 132nd Street lane closed
Shane Osborn grabs several endorsements
New public employee pay data: Douglas, Lancaster, Sarpy Counties, plus utilities
Database: How much did Medicare pay your doctor?
Omaha area may get 1 inch of rain tonight
Gov. Heineman vetoes bill to ease restrictions on nurse practitioners
Nebraska banking and finance director to retire
Waitress who served alcohol to teen before fatal crash gets jail time, probation
Owners of exotic dance bar deny prostitution allegations
More Nebraskans are electing to vote early
A day after Ricketts endorsement, Ted Cruz backs Sasse for Senate
Some city streets remain closed
Nebraska's U.S. Senate candidates stick to familiar topics at Omaha forum
19-year-old killed in one-vehicle crash at 72nd & Shirley
< >
COLUMNISTS »
Kelly: Started at a dining room table, Home Instead thriving at 20 with $1B in annual revenue
The idea that Paul Hogan had studied and then hatched at his mother's table was that older people, rather than moving in with relatives or to an assisted-living center, would much prefer to stay home instead.
Breaking Brad: Nebraska GOP candidates unified against naked squirrels
Some of these Nebraska campaigns are tilting pretty far right. At a recent forum, there was a consensus that we need to ban public dancing and clothe naked squirrels in public parks.
Breaking Brad: Inside the mind of a 99-year-old real estate agent
I saw an article about a 99-year-old real estate agent who's still working. “This house is extra special. It has indoor toilets!”
Breaking Brad: Into the claw machine! Florida kid follows Lincoln kid's lead
In Fort Lauderdale, Fla., a child climbed inside a claw machine. Hey, Florida kid: Nobody likes a copycat.
Breaking Brad: Even Chuck Hassebrook's throwing mud!
The Nebraska campaigns have turned so ugly, Democrat Chuck Hassebrook lobbed unfounded accusations at an imaginary opponent.
Deadline Deal thumbnail
Tokyo Sushi
$5 for $10 or $10 for $20 toward All-You-Can-Eat Sushi Purchase
Buy Now
PHOTO GALLERIES »
< >
SPOTLIGHT »
Omaha World-Herald Contests
Enter for a chance to win great prizes.
OWH Store: Buy photos, books and articles
Buy photos, books and articles
Travel Snaps Photo
Going on Vacation? Take the Omaha World-Herald with you and you could the next Travel Snaps winner.
Click here to donate to Goodfellows
The 2011 Goodfellows fund drive provided holiday meals to nearly 5,000 families and their children, and raised more than $500,000 to help families in crisis year round.
WORLD-HERALD ALERTS »
Want to get World-Herald stories sent directly to your home or work computer? Sign up for Omaha.com's News Alerts and you will receive e-mails with the day's top stories.
Can't find what you need? Click here for site map »