NewsCommunity Connection


Domestic violence victim and now volunteer is giving back to help families at the nonprofit First Step

Posted at 11:21 PM, Sep 22, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-22 23:21:49-04

DETROIT (WXYZ) — For years, I've done stories about domestic violence, I've spoken out about domestic violence, but it's rare for people to hear from adults who witnessed domestic violence as children.

I want to share the story of one young lady who now volunteers for a local domestic violence shelter while working for the Detroit Lions. She's hoping by sharing her family's heartache she will show others why it's so important to give to help others escape the vicious cycle of violence.

Domestic Violence sees no color, no income, no zip code! Whether you live in America or across the globe, one in four women and one in 7 men will be victims of severe physical violence or even death.

“I was really little, and I was in the bathtub and my dad was hitting her and she was just crying out to him saying like please just let me get her out of the bath obviously trying to prevent me from drowning,” said Jesica McCullough.

Beatings, burning, strangling and the risk of death are common fears among victims.

“What would he do when he'd find you?" asked Clifford.

"One time he chased us down the road in his car almost hitting us off the side of the road and then when we got to my parents' house punched out the window,” said McCullough.

Often the victims are children who see or hear of the violence between their parents. For Jesica McCollough, he chose to break the cycle.

“Do you all talk about it openly what do you do?" asked WXYZ’s Carolyn Clifford.

“I think the more you talk about it the less power it has over you all three of us are still in therapy,” said McCollough.

Jesica, her brother and her mother continue to work through their past heartache. Jesica works for the Detroit Lions and volunteers at First Step, a domestic violence shelter.

“I just kept looking for something that was meaningful to me and when I came across First Step it just clicked immediately this is what I was looking for it helped heal me in ways and I think it still does,” said McCollough.

Jesica remembers when she touched the lives of a mom and daughter who came to First Step for help when she shared her story with them.

“She immediately started crying, ‘I told my daughter one day we're going to be back here helping out’ it was just a beautiful moment,” said McCollough.

This Friday, First Step is holding their annual give light gala where they raise money to support initiatives and the shelter.

“They have an amazing hotline where you can call in at any time, you can go on the web even have a thing at the top that you can close the window immediately,” said McCollough.

“Why do you feel it's so important to share your story right now?" asked Clifford.

"A lot of people feel it defines them and it doesn't in any way,” said McCollough.

I have gone on to do really amazing things, I was Valedictorian in high school went to MSU, now I work for the Detroit Lions,” said McCollough.

She's changing lives as a First Step volunteer. With 83 cents of every $1 donated will go directly to First Step's programs and services to help families find peace and safety. If you need help call their 24-hour helpline at 734-722-6800.

First Step is holding its gala virtually for 2021. If you would like to donate or attend the virtual event, here is the link: First Step You are the Light Gala and Silent Auction