A victim of domestic violence or sexual assault could be your neighbor, your daughter, your brother … they could be anybody.
The Abused Adult Resource Center was created to help those victims, and over the years, the program has grown from a staff of three to over 70.
As we continue to honor women all month long on KX News, Alysia Huck introduces us to a pillar of AARC, Diane Zainhofsky.
“We have learned to do this work by not telling women what to do, we tell them what their options are and their choices and that’s the start of their new beginning.”
The Abused Adult Resource Center was also a new beginning for Diane Zainhofsky’s career.
She was the driving force behind what started as a small, three-person operation helping a handful of abused women, to an impactful program, changing the lives of hundreds of victims of domestic violence and sexual assault,” said Diane Zainhofsky, Executive Director, AARC.
Zainhofsky recalled, “I remember that first year seeing 17 victims of DV entire year, last year we had close to 1600.”
Diane saw a dire need in the community and immersed herself in finding shelter and support for each and every victim.
But knowing what they needed most, did not come from a book or a study.
“What I know today about battered women,” said Zainhovsky, “I have learned from battered women. They have been my teachers and they are the people that tell me what their needs are and that’s how this whole program was built.”
Diane’s influence has impacted thousands of individuals because she took her knowledge and mentored dozens and dozens of women who have gone on to help victims across the country.
Ultimately, Diane says the best part of working at AARC has been witnessing victims turn their lives around.
“To see them acquire their own housing, and getting a job and going back to school, I mean that’s just like fuel for a car, you just think ‘oh my gosh look at where she came from and what she’s doing today,” said Zainhofsky.
After 39 years with AARC, Diane’s time has come to an end, and she will retire in June, but with no regrets.
“And right now today, leaving the Abused Adult Resource Center, I feel really, really good,” Zainhofsky said. “It’s in a good state right now.”
And what Diane has built, and what she has taught will forever remain, as Interim Executive Director Michelle Erickson can attest to.
“She has a way of teaching without you knowing you are being taught,” said Michelle Erickson, Interim Executive Director, AARC. “I don’t know how to explain it, but all of a sudden you think ‘oh, yeah, that’s exactly what Diane would have said or what she would’ve done. “
You think of how far reaching that is and all you have done?
Zainhofsky reminisced, “It’s been amazing, it’s been a 39-year journey, but it’s also like a blink of an eye. It went fast.”
But for Diane, leaving doesn’t mean leaving…
“I know I’ll still because you know what, the Abused Adult Resource Center is in my heart,” Zainhofsky said.
Diane said that she’s just kind of “slipping out” because there’s no way she won’t stay involved with AARC in some capacity.
But she does plan to do some bowling, play some bridge and visit her kids and grandkids.