Domestic violence survivor gives back

- Chris Howell says if she can be a victim of domestic abuse, it can happen to anyone.

A former head coach of the University of Minnesota Women’s Basketball team, and current assistant to the interim athletic director, says life is a crazy patchwork of experiences -- both good and bad.

To help victims of domestic violence, Howell is using her love of quilting to share her story, one stitch at a time.

"As you make a quilt, it tells a story. As I started my story, I went back to when I was in an abusive relationship and the growth that has happened in my journey over the last 17 years."

Howell’s story started in the 1980s when she married her first husband. After about four or five years, the marriage turned violent and Howell became ill because of the stress that came from living with an abusive husband. When the sickness became too much, she decided she needed to get out.

"I knew I had to leave to save myself or I would die, because I was dying inside because my organs were shutting down due to stress," Howell said.

After getting help from a couple of shelters for victims of domestic abuse, Howell wants to help the cause that saved her life.

"Next you have this with a button that is closed and it represents our heart," Howell said of her latest quilt. "If you look at the black lines going up. They represent the ladder we climb every day as a victim to survivor."

Using donated materials, like the 25 pairs of jeans donated by doctors, nurses, and volunteers working for Safe Journey, Howell creates the elaborate quilts to be auction off.

"These pockets are really deep. They represent the courage we have to dig down deep inside to move forward."

Howell has the quilts auctioned off to benefit Safe Journey, hospital based organization that helps victims of domestic violence.

"It’s an opportunity to give back to the people who paid it forward to me, and helped me get to where I am today."

Along her journey, Howell married again, and feels better about herself and her life.

"I'm much better and healthier and have an opportunity to share my story to encourage others to do the same."

Howell will share her story and her quilt will be auctioned off at Safe Journey's annual gala next week. This is her second quilt for the organization. Her first raised $1700 dollars three years ago.

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