Ignite is a group of local business women whose intent is to eradicate domestic abuse/violence in Marion County, Florida. We do this by raising funds for Marion County’s Domestic Violence/Sexual Assault Center, raising awareness and inspiring other women to get involved – to be part of the solution.
Because we believe knowledge is power, periodically we will share stories of Marion County women who have been affected by domestic violence and have chosen to use their life experiences as a stepping stone to help others.
In addition, we will publish articles about other local women and how their support and involvement in organizations like the center mentioned above have made a positive difference in our community.
When you read an article here that you feel will help others, please forward or copy and paste to your friends, family and co-workers.
If you know someone who has experienced domestic abuse or has a relevant life experience and would be willing to share their story to help others, please have them contact Pat Jocelyn at firstname.lastname@example.org. We can’t promise we will write and publish all of the stories but we do promise to get back with each person who has contacted us.
“Nobody Will Ever Hurt You Again”
Story by Pat Jocelyn
“The phone rang and then I heard my adult son screaming,” Ocala resident Delores Galloway said, her voice reflecting the remembered anguish.
Delores recalled running towards her son as he cried out in disbelief, ‘Mom, he’s gone’. Galloway frantically sought clarification and asked, “What do you mean he’s gone?”
‘Elijah’s gone,’ he replied, referring to his baby boy, Delores’ grandchild.
That tragic day eighteen years ago was the day Delores Galloway’s grandson Elijah was murdered. “I didn’t want to believe it,” Delores explained. “I had lost a grandson to domestic violence.”
So begins a long and pain-filled journey back in time as Delores shares one of the most painful experiences of her family’s life:
Back then, Elijah’s parents were not living together so the mother of the nine-month-old infant agreed her baby could stay with Delores and her son for an extended visit. Grandmother and grandson grew very close – very quickly. “He was such a joy,” Delores said as a wistful smile touched her lips. “Every morning I’d go in and change him before going to work and every night I’d rock him to sleep singing ‘Jesus loves me, this I know’.”
Elijah was just over a year old when his mother contacted them with the news she was arriving to pick the baby up. “I remember it like it was yesterday,” Delores recalled, referring to the day she took Elijah and his mother to the airport. “As I was driving I began to weep and I didn’t know why,” she said. “I just had this feeling. I remember handing him off to her and telling her to take good care of him.”
Time passed. Then on that fateful day when her son received the tragic news that Elijah had been killed, Delores and her family’s lives were turned upside down. The family travelled to Ohio to attend the funeral.
It was there that Delores first saw the body of her beloved grandchild; it was there that she made a silent promise to him. “I said, ‘Elijah, nobody will ever hurt you again and for the rest of my life I’m going to be your voice’.”
“That became my life’s work,” Delores said in a low voice; “to be his voice and to be the voice of others like him.”
Shortly after hearing the devastating news of her grandchild’s untimely passing, Delores sought out the details and facts behind Elijah’s death. “I wanted to see where he lived and I began to interview people; and I asked all kinds of questions of the mother,” she said.
What she found out was unsettling. “My heart hurt for Elijah. He was living in low income housing and his mother didn’t really know how to be a mom,” Delores explained. “Did she love him? Of course she did, but sometimes moms allow the wrong people into their lives and that cost my grandchild his life.”
According to Delores, Elijah had been left with the mother’s boyfriend while she went to work. “He was angry with the child because Elijah had pooped in his pants and had complained about a belly ache,” Delores explained. “The boyfriend was upset and didn’t want to be bothered with him. He got angry and punched Elijah in his stomach so hard he severed his liver in half.”
As gruesome as this action was, the boyfriend wasn’t finished. In an attempt to cover his tracks he devised a story. “He called 911 to make it sound like an accident and said Elijah had fallen down the basement stairs,” Delores continued.
Later Delores and her family attended the trial where the boyfriend was convicted of Elijah’s murder.
The story doesn’t end here – not by a longshot. The impassioned and energized grandmother wanted to be true to the promise made to her grandson. But she felt being a voice wasn’t enough – she needed credibility – and that translated to receiving a degree. “I thought about how I could be his voice so I went back to school late in life,” Delores said.
Delores recalled the tipping point in her quest. While in one of her college classes she was asked to do a presentation on trauma. “That was the beginning,” she explained. “I got my son’s permission to share Elijah’s story. There wasn’t a dry eye in the room. My objective wasn’t to make them sad but to cause them to connect – to cause them to think about whether or not they knew anyone that was in a relationship like that just for the sake of having someone in their lives. It wasn’t the right person and they knew it, but they were settling. I didn’t want it to cost them what it cost me – my first grandson’s life.”
That may have been the first time Delores spoke professionally about her personal experiences but it certainly wouldn’t be her last. She earned a Bachelor of Science in Human Services and a certification in coaching. Her resume also included an earlier stint in the military where she participated in Desert Shield and Desert Storm. Couple those credentials with her decades of federal government work experience and you have quite a powerful combination.
She volunteered in a domestic violence center, was a crisis intervention advocate, manned hotlines, and talked with women who came into the center with just the clothes on their backs. “It was very humbling,” Delores said. “But for the Grace of God go I.”
“Whenever and wherever I get the opportunity to speak, I speak about domestic violence,” she added.
What about other women who want to get involved but feel they don’t have anything to offer? “A lot of us at this juncture of our lives are reinventing ourselves,” Delores said. “Some feel we don’t have anything to offer but that couldn’t be further from the truth. Everybody has something they can share.”
“Sometimes all that’s needed is an older woman speaking about her life to a younger woman. That’s what we’re supposed to be doing – mentoring. Now that I’m retired I get to do something I have always been passionate about – empowering women.”
For more information about IGNITE and how you can support our upcoming fundraising luncheon please visit our website at igniteforocala.com/ or visit us on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/igniteforocala/.
For more information about the Marion County Domestic Violence/Sexual Assault Center, please call 352-622-8495 or 352-622-5919. You can also visit their website at https://ocaladvshelter.org/.