A domestic violence survivor becomes the change she wants to see in her family.
Shayna Qualls says she, her sister, her mom, and her grandmother are all victims of domestic violence. Her memories start with her grandmother.
“She was actually shot in the face by her husband at the time. The entire side of her face was basically blown off because he shot her with a shotgun,” Qualls told News 2.
Her grandmother survived, but her mother didn’t. Qualls says after years of domestic abuse Cathy Brandon committed suicide.
“She ends her life so she can end the abuse.”
Qualls has a book filled with notes her mother wrote of the abuse. It includes her suicide note and documentation of her abuser’s violations of an order of protection.
“He ended up breaking it 33 times within the first 3 weeks of the order of protection,” she explained.
It’s a cycle Qualls’ family can’t seem to get away from.
“Domestic violence is just a repeated cycle throughout all the generations on both sides of my family.”
In 2012 Qualls says her sister was killed at the hands of her ex’s father.
“He basically snapped and got violent with her, ended up hitting her to the point where she fell to the ground and he just didn’t stop. He beat her to death.”
That’s when Qualls started Wings of Courage, an online resource for domestic violence survivors.
“Wings of Courage is the name because when my sister was murdered, she was so brutally murdered that the only way they could identify her body was from the butterfly tattoo that she got on her arm that she actually got to cover up the name of her abuser.”
Wings of Courage is now an official nonprofit.
“We are going to take it from the internet, and we are going to do the groundwork now,” Qualls explained.
The goal is to serve 2,000 clients in Middle Tennessee this year.
“I’m not going to let my mother’s or sister’s death be in vain, or even my own abuse as a child. I’m going to do something about it.”
Qualls is working on a number of programs for the non-profit starting with “flight bags,” which include basic essentials like hygiene items and food for those who escape their abuser.
“As most everyone knows, the most dangerous time in a domestic violence situation is when you leave. A lot of people leave with nothing like not even the clothes on their back, they have nothing. We want to make sure they have at least the bare basic essentials to get from point A to point B so they can be safe.”
Qualls is also currently looking for safe places in every county.
For more information on their services or on how you can help, click here.