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Darlene Thomas - GreenHouse17

Darlene Thomas, executive director of GreenHouse17, an advocacy agency committed to ending intimate partner abuse in families and the community, talks about services provided by the agency, including a 24-hour hotline, 42-bed emergency shelter, legal advocacy and more.
Season 18 Episode 5 Length 26:57 Premiere: 10/09/22

Kentucky Nonprofit Executive Discusses a Mission to Empower Victims of Intimate Partner Violence

It takes incredible bravery to leave a relationship marked by intimate partner violence. Yet those individuals who do seek refuge at a shelter may bring with them a sense of shame about the course their lives have taken.

GreenHouse 17, the advocacy agency formerly known as the Bluegrass Domestic Violence Program, wants to change that narrative of embarrassment to one of empowerment for its clients.

“We try to create an environment where you’re proud to be there. You took great strength and courage beyond words to find your way to this building, and we’re going to celebrate you,” says Darlene Thomas, executive director of GreenHouse17. “There’s nothing to be ashamed of. The shame belongs somewhere else.”

Instead of seeing their time in a domestic violence shelter as something that’s taboo, Thomas says GreenHouse 17 works to be place of beauty and opportunity for the individuals it serves. She says that’s part of what drove the name change for the organization founded in 2004 that now serves people in 17 central Kentucky counties.

“We really wanted to capture the positive energy of survivors, and we wanted our name to reflect the possibilities,” says Thomas. “A greenhouse is a place where you grow and nurture things in a protected environment, and we believe we’re helping families grow and learn to nurture themselves while being protected by our organization.”

Domestic Violence During COVID

When the COVID pandemic started, Thomas says demand for services at GreenHouse 17 declined. She describes those first few weeks in the spring of 2020 as “eerily quiet.”

But as time went on, reports of violence began to surface from people who were trapped at home after businesses, schools, and churches shuttered.

“We were all told to be safe at home. For domestic violence victims, that’s the least safe place for them,” says Thomas. “The violence was more severe. People were calling with horrendous stories of being held prisoner.”

Instead of getting better as the world reopened, Thomas says life for domestic violence victims and their children only got worse. Abusers had less control as they saw their partners return to work and their children return to school.

“Abusers don’t like to lose power, and they’ve had more than they’ve ever had” during the pandemic, says Thomas.

Some victims seek an emergency protective order (EPO) from a judge that requires an abuser to have no contact with the person being abused, their children, or other family members. Thomas says victims feel safer having a court order, and police generally respond quicker to situations that involve an EPO.

But the orders don’t guarantee a victim’s safety. Thomas says research from the University of Kentucky indicates that EPOs are violated about 65 percent of the time.

“Without the protective order, it would’ve been violated 100 percent of the time,” she says. “None of it would stop.”

Court orders can help a victim leave an abusive relationship, but Thomas says EPOs shouldn’t be the only preparatory action a survivor takes. She says leaving requires extensive planning across a range of emotional, logistical, and financial issues: How can children and pets be protected, what clothes and personal effects will they need, what documents and bank records should they take, do they have cash, should they get a temporary cellphone. For people already struggling to survive their day-to-day existence, the thought of planning an escape can be overwhelming, especially when living under a constant threat of violence.

“We need to understand there’s greater risk in leaving than staying,” Thomas explains. “There’s still violence that’s going to happen when you stay but it really has a tendency to escalate... when you leave.”

Firearms and Domestic Violence

Research indicates that as many as 45 percent of women and 35 percent of men in Kentucky experience violence at the hands of an intimate partner. The acts aren’t just physical or sexual. Thomas says the violence can be verbal, mental, financial, or any other method someone may use to exert control or dominance over his or her partner.

Even though an individual may not be ready to leave their abuser, Thomas says it’s important to let the victim know that they do have options.

“You empower them with knowledge, you plant seeds of possibilities and hope,” she says.

While intimate partner violence is an age-old problem, Thomas says American society still struggles with how to hold perpetrators responsible. In most cases, it’s the victim and the children that end up uprooting their lives and moving into a shelter while the abuser gets to stay in the family home.

“We’re always expecting the victim to have to change, or to do better, or to protect themselves and their children,” she says. “We’re not really good yet at figuring out how we hold that batterer accountable.”

Another societal issue that has serious ramifications for intimate partner relationships is the prevalence of firearms in America. Thomas says about 80 percent of domestic violence victims who are murdered are killed with a gun. While many of those perpetrators were known to be violent either through police reports or EPOs issued on them, they were sill allowed to keep their firearms.

“Common sense says that we should remove weapons from those who we know to do harm,” says Thomas.

The ‘Healing Journey’ at GreenHouse 17

In addition to a 24-hour hotline, counseling services, legal advocacy, medical treatment, and transportation assistance, GreenHouse 17 also operates a 42-bed emergency shelter located on 40 acres in rural Fayette County. Thomas says the safe, calming atmosphere helps survivors readjust their minds and bodies to living without a constant state of fear.

“We need to help them see their beauty and their possibilities and their capabilities,” she says. “The only way to do that is with time and patience and providing so many ways for them to get their hands into new opportunities.”

During their stay at GreenHouse 17, survivors can spend time in nature, work on an active farm, and eat fresh, homegrown fruits and vegetables. Those who do choose to work on the farm receive a small stipend for their efforts. Thomas says counselors don’t place unrealistic expectations for a speedy recovery on survivors and their children, but rather help them build on the strengths they already possess.

“For victims to begin that healing journey,” she says, “they have to know that they belong to something bigger than themselves.”

Because of the stigma and shame that can so often accompany domestic violence situations, the cues that a victim may exhibit to others can be subtle. Thomas says there may be a change in the way the person dresses, or the individual may avoid making eye contact when talking. Sometimes people will stop socializing with family and friends that they previously enjoyed visiting.

Since intimate partner violence can occur in any relationship – straight or gay, married or dating – Thomas says it’s important to pay attention to sudden changes of behavior among family members, friends, or coworkers. She says someone we know and love may be a victim or a perpetrator of abuse.

“We have to take a hard look around and be willing to stand up and be a voice for what’s right and wrong,” she says. “It doesn’t mean you have to cut people out of your lives, but it does mean we have to make clear, conscious decisions about what’s appropriate and how we treat each other.”

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Kentucky Edition host Renee Shaw in a green dress with the logo superimposed over the image along with a CHECK SCHEDULE button.Kentucky Edition host Renee Shaw in a green dress with the set behind her and the logo superimposed over the image along with a CHECK SCHEDULE button.

Season 18 Episodes

Author Emily Bingham

S18 E11 Length 27:15 Premiere Date 11/20/22

Bill Goodman - Kentucky Humanities

S18 E10 Length 26:33 Premiere Date 11/13/22

Restoring American Democracy

S18 E9 Length 26:33 Premiere Date 11/06/22

Breast Cancer

S18 E8 Length 26:45 Premiere Date 10/30/22

Secretary of State Michael Adams on Election Issues

S18 E7 Length 26:32 Premiere Date 10/23/22

University of Kentucky President Eli Capilouto

S18 E6 Length 27:08 Premiere Date 10/16/22

Darlene Thomas - GreenHouse17

S18 E5 Length 26:57 Premiere Date 10/09/22

Bob Jackson - Murray State University

S18 E4 Length 26:31 Premiere Date 10/02/22

David Adkins - The Council of State Governments

S18 E3 Length 27:41 Premiere Date 09/25/22

Melynda Jamison - CASA of Lexington

S18 E2 Length 26:32 Premiere Date 09/18/22

State Treasurer Allison Ball

S18 E1 Length 26:32 Premiere Date 09/11/22

See All Episodes

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Kosair Charities Face It Movement; Terry Brooks

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Premiered On: 06/22/2018

Cherise Fanno Burdeen, CEO of the Pretrial Justice Institute (PJI), talks about her organization's mission to reduce incarceration rates and their efforts to reform the bail system.

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  • Thursday December 8, 2022 4:30 am CT on KETKY

Leadership - Marian Guinn and Lisa Williams; Colene Elridge - S12 E38

  • Wednesday December 7, 2022 10:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Wednesday December 7, 2022 9:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Wednesday December 7, 2022 2:00 pm ET on KETKY
  • Wednesday December 7, 2022 1:00 pm CT on KETKY
  • Wednesday December 7, 2022 5:30 am ET on KETKY
  • Wednesday December 7, 2022 4:30 am CT on KETKY

Patricia Peacock - S12 E30

  • Tuesday December 6, 2022 10:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Tuesday December 6, 2022 9:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Tuesday December 6, 2022 2:00 pm ET on KETKY
  • Tuesday December 6, 2022 1:00 pm CT on KETKY
  • Tuesday December 6, 2022 5:30 am ET on KETKY
  • Tuesday December 6, 2022 4:30 am CT on KETKY

Cory Jewell Jensen - S12 E18

  • Monday December 5, 2022 10:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Monday December 5, 2022 9:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Monday December 5, 2022 2:00 pm ET on KETKY
  • Monday December 5, 2022 1:00 pm CT on KETKY
  • Monday December 5, 2022 5:30 am ET on KETKY
  • Monday December 5, 2022 4:30 am CT on KETKY

Restaurateur and Chef Ouita Michel - S16 E31

  • Sunday December 4, 2022 4:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Sunday December 4, 2022 3:30 pm CT on KETKY

David Thompson - S12 E11

  • Friday December 2, 2022 10:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Friday December 2, 2022 9:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Friday December 2, 2022 2:00 pm ET on KETKY
  • Friday December 2, 2022 1:00 pm CT on KETKY
  • Friday December 2, 2022 5:30 am ET on KETKY
  • Friday December 2, 2022 4:30 am CT on KETKY

Mitzi Sinnott - S12 E3

  • Thursday December 1, 2022 10:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Thursday December 1, 2022 9:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Thursday December 1, 2022 2:00 pm ET on KETKY
  • Thursday December 1, 2022 1:00 pm CT on KETKY
  • Thursday December 1, 2022 5:30 am ET on KETKY
  • Thursday December 1, 2022 4:30 am CT on KETKY

FDA Commissioner Dr. Robert Califf - S12 E2

  • Wednesday November 30, 2022 10:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Wednesday November 30, 2022 9:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Wednesday November 30, 2022 2:00 pm ET on KETKY
  • Wednesday November 30, 2022 1:00 pm CT on KETKY
  • Wednesday November 30, 2022 5:30 am ET on KETKY
  • Wednesday November 30, 2022 4:30 am CT on KETKY

Phil Wilkins - S11 E43

  • Tuesday November 29, 2022 10:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Tuesday November 29, 2022 9:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Tuesday November 29, 2022 2:00 pm ET on KETKY
  • Tuesday November 29, 2022 1:00 pm CT on KETKY
  • Tuesday November 29, 2022 5:30 am ET on KETKY
  • Tuesday November 29, 2022 4:30 am CT on KETKY

Tameka Montgomery - S11 E42

  • Monday November 28, 2022 10:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Monday November 28, 2022 9:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Monday November 28, 2022 2:00 pm ET on KETKY
  • Monday November 28, 2022 1:00 pm CT on KETKY
  • Monday November 28, 2022 5:30 am ET on KETKY
  • Monday November 28, 2022 4:30 am CT on KETKY

Dayna Seelig - S15 E12

  • Sunday December 4, 2022 8:00 am ET on KETKY
  • Sunday December 4, 2022 7:00 am CT on KETKY
  • Saturday December 3, 2022 4:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Saturday December 3, 2022 3:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Sunday November 27, 2022 4:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Sunday November 27, 2022 3:30 pm CT on KETKY

Dominique Wilkins - S11 E41

  • Friday November 25, 2022 10:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Friday November 25, 2022 9:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Friday November 25, 2022 2:00 pm ET on KETKY
  • Friday November 25, 2022 1:00 pm CT on KETKY
  • Friday November 25, 2022 5:30 am ET on KETKY
  • Friday November 25, 2022 4:30 am CT on KETKY

UK President Eli Capilouto - S18 E6

  • Thursday November 24, 2022 11:30 pm ET on KET
  • Thursday November 24, 2022 10:30 pm CT on KET
  • Thursday November 24, 2022 11:00 pm ET on KET2
  • Thursday November 24, 2022 10:00 pm CT on KET2
  • Thursday November 24, 2022 10:00 pm ET on KETKY
  • Thursday November 24, 2022 9:00 pm CT on KETKY
  • Thursday November 24, 2022 6:30 pm ET on KET
  • Thursday November 24, 2022 5:30 pm CT on KET

Gary Tuggle - S11 E40

  • Thursday November 24, 2022 10:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Thursday November 24, 2022 9:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Thursday November 24, 2022 2:00 pm ET on KETKY
  • Thursday November 24, 2022 1:00 pm CT on KETKY
  • Thursday November 24, 2022 5:30 am ET on KETKY
  • Thursday November 24, 2022 4:30 am CT on KETKY

Dr. Leana Wen - S11 E39

  • Wednesday November 23, 2022 10:29 pm ET on KETKY
  • Wednesday November 23, 2022 9:29 pm CT on KETKY
  • Wednesday November 23, 2022 2:00 pm ET on KETKY
  • Wednesday November 23, 2022 1:00 pm CT on KETKY
  • Wednesday November 23, 2022 5:30 am ET on KETKY
  • Wednesday November 23, 2022 4:30 am CT on KETKY

Terrence Walton - S11 E38

  • Tuesday November 22, 2022 10:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Tuesday November 22, 2022 9:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Tuesday November 22, 2022 2:00 pm ET on KETKY
  • Tuesday November 22, 2022 1:00 pm CT on KETKY
  • Tuesday November 22, 2022 5:30 am ET on KETKY
  • Tuesday November 22, 2022 4:30 am CT on KETKY

U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack - S11 E37

  • Monday November 21, 2022 10:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Monday November 21, 2022 9:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Monday November 21, 2022 2:00 pm ET on KETKY
  • Monday November 21, 2022 1:00 pm CT on KETKY
  • Monday November 21, 2022 5:30 am ET on KETKY
  • Monday November 21, 2022 4:30 am CT on KETKY

Author Emily Bingham - S18 E11

  • Sunday November 27, 2022 8:00 am ET on KETKY
  • Sunday November 27, 2022 7:00 am CT on KETKY
  • Saturday November 26, 2022 4:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Saturday November 26, 2022 3:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Sunday November 20, 2022 6:00 pm ET on KET2
  • Sunday November 20, 2022 5:00 pm CT on KET2
  • Sunday November 20, 2022 4:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Sunday November 20, 2022 3:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Sunday November 20, 2022 12:00 pm ET on KET
  • Sunday November 20, 2022 11:00 am CT on KET

Kimberly Johnson - S11 E36

  • Friday November 18, 2022 10:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Friday November 18, 2022 9:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Friday November 18, 2022 2:00 pm ET on KETKY
  • Friday November 18, 2022 1:00 pm CT on KETKY
  • Friday November 18, 2022 5:30 am ET on KETKY
  • Friday November 18, 2022 4:30 am CT on KETKY

Jason Merrick - S11 E35

  • Thursday November 17, 2022 10:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Thursday November 17, 2022 9:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Thursday November 17, 2022 2:10 pm ET on KETKY
  • Thursday November 17, 2022 1:10 pm CT on KETKY
  • Thursday November 17, 2022 5:30 am ET on KETKY
  • Thursday November 17, 2022 4:30 am CT on KETKY

Fayette County Veterans Treatment Court - S11 E34

  • Wednesday November 16, 2022 10:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Wednesday November 16, 2022 9:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Wednesday November 16, 2022 2:00 pm ET on KETKY
  • Wednesday November 16, 2022 1:00 pm CT on KETKY
  • Wednesday November 16, 2022 5:30 am ET on KETKY
  • Wednesday November 16, 2022 4:30 am CT on KETKY

Dr. Lynne Saddler - S11 E33

  • Tuesday November 15, 2022 10:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Tuesday November 15, 2022 9:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Tuesday November 15, 2022 2:25 pm ET on KETKY
  • Tuesday November 15, 2022 1:25 pm CT on KETKY
  • Tuesday November 15, 2022 5:30 am ET on KETKY
  • Tuesday November 15, 2022 4:30 am CT on KETKY

Scott Hesseltine - S11 E32

  • Monday November 14, 2022 10:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Monday November 14, 2022 9:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Monday November 14, 2022 2:00 pm ET on KETKY
  • Monday November 14, 2022 1:00 pm CT on KETKY
  • Monday November 14, 2022 5:30 am ET on KETKY
  • Monday November 14, 2022 4:30 am CT on KETKY

Bill Goodman - Kentucky Humanities - S18 E10

  • Sunday November 20, 2022 8:00 am ET on KETKY
  • Sunday November 20, 2022 7:00 am CT on KETKY
  • Saturday November 19, 2022 4:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Saturday November 19, 2022 3:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Sunday November 13, 2022 6:00 pm ET on KET2
  • Sunday November 13, 2022 5:00 pm CT on KET2
  • Sunday November 13, 2022 4:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Sunday November 13, 2022 3:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Sunday November 13, 2022 12:00 pm ET on KET
  • Sunday November 13, 2022 11:00 am CT on KET

Restoring American Democracy - S18 E9

  • Friday November 25, 2022 11:00 pm ET on KET2
  • Friday November 25, 2022 10:00 pm CT on KET2
  • Friday November 25, 2022 10:00 pm ET on KETKY
  • Friday November 25, 2022 9:00 pm CT on KETKY
  • Friday November 25, 2022 6:30 pm ET on KET
  • Friday November 25, 2022 5:30 pm CT on KET
  • Sunday November 13, 2022 8:00 am ET on KETKY
  • Sunday November 13, 2022 7:00 am CT on KETKY
  • Saturday November 12, 2022 4:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Saturday November 12, 2022 3:30 pm CT on KETKY

Jessie Laine Powell - S11 E31

  • Friday November 11, 2022 5:30 am ET on KETKY
  • Friday November 11, 2022 4:30 am CT on KETKY

Oral Health Care In Kentucky - S11 E30

  • Thursday November 10, 2022 10:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Thursday November 10, 2022 9:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Thursday November 10, 2022 5:30 am ET on KETKY
  • Thursday November 10, 2022 4:30 am CT on KETKY

Kishonna Gray - S11 E29

  • Wednesday November 9, 2022 10:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Wednesday November 9, 2022 9:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Wednesday November 9, 2022 5:30 am ET on KETKY
  • Wednesday November 9, 2022 4:30 am CT on KETKY

Gretchen Hunt - S11 E28

  • Tuesday November 8, 2022 10:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Tuesday November 8, 2022 9:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Tuesday November 8, 2022 2:00 pm ET on KETKY
  • Tuesday November 8, 2022 1:00 pm CT on KETKY
  • Tuesday November 8, 2022 5:30 am ET on KETKY
  • Tuesday November 8, 2022 4:30 am CT on KETKY

Dr. Erin Frazier - S11 E27

  • Monday November 7, 2022 10:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Monday November 7, 2022 9:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Monday November 7, 2022 2:00 pm ET on KETKY
  • Monday November 7, 2022 1:00 pm CT on KETKY
  • Monday November 7, 2022 5:30 am ET on KETKY
  • Monday November 7, 2022 4:30 am CT on KETKY
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