'It's about life after abuse:' Survivors team up to combat rise in domestic abuse in Milwaukee

MILWAUKEE -- During the coronavirus pandemic, the number of domestic abuse incidents in Milwaukee has increased. Now, two domestic abuse survivors are teaming up to help end the recent rise.

For those in a domestic abuse situation, leaving may feel impossible -- especially during the pandemic.

Laverne Badger

"We were never prepared for something like this," said Laverne Badger, co-founder of ExPOSED The Podcast.  "Victims are embarrassed that they allowed themselves to be in a situation like that, so we weren't having those conversations, and if we were having them they were very minimal."

"A person can have an initiative to leave but then you know, they may have to rely on someone for financial support," Natalie Hayden, co-founder of ExPOSED The Podcast, said. "The focus (of the podcast), really, is exposing these taboo conversations on life after abuse."

ExPOSED The Podcast

Survivers-turned-thrivers, Hayden and Badger formed ExPOSED The Podcast -- an open conversation that takes place every Wednesday, inspiring hope.

Natalie Hayden

"Laverne and I, we just met and had an instant connection, and she had a focus on bringing men into the conversation," Hayden said.

Both women's efforts are supported by the City of Milwaukee's Office of Violence Prevention working on prevention and outreach.

"Something comes up in current events, we're talking about it," said Badger. "Being able to tell your story openly is very therapeutic."

When they're not live on the podcast, they are talking to their listeners off-air.

"We want to make sure a person is provided the support, the compassion, and everything that they need to know that they can make it through their situation," said Hayden.

Natalie Hayden and Laverne Badger

Even one life changed is worth the effort, they say.

"It's something that we love to do, it's just us having a conversation," Badger said. "It's not based on all the gloom and doom of our past relationships, but it's about life after abuse."

The number of domestic violence cases and deaths is up in Milwaukee, according to city officials, with an update on exact numbers expected this coming week.

If you or someone you know needs help, shelters -- including the Sojourner Family Peace Center -- continue to offer safe places to stay during the pandemic.