CHARLESTON, W.Va. — An institution in West Virginia domestic violence prevention is on her way to retiring. After nearly 25 years, Tina Manns is cutting her hours as Boone County Outreach Coordinator for the YWCA Resolve Family Abuse Program.
In countless cases, the diminutive, white-haired 86-year-old has been the one person in Boone County to whom victims could turn, in a rural place thick with family connections that could put her at risk — such as the time she was driving a woman to a shelter when they saw the husband’s truck.
Manns said she told the woman to ‘duck down and hold on.’
“Scoot down in the seat. We’re gonna skedaddle, so hang on. And I went through one red light, and then went through the next red light and turned left to try to lose him,” she recalled. “It’s the only time in my life I ever wanted a policeman there if I happen to run a red light.”
She said they made it to the shelter that night, but remembers too many cases in which the victim didn’t make it.
Manns has answered 3 a.m. calls and been threatened by armed men. She’s driven out in the middle of the night to visit women who live alone, off the hard road, and taken others back and forth to work every day.
None of it seemed to phase her, according to Laura Michele Deiner, who wrote about Manns in an article for Yes! Magazine.
“She is not intimidated by anything,” said Deiner. “I asked her how she is able to do all this, and she said, ‘It’s the ones who get out that make it worth it.’”
Even when the stories she tells sound like something out of an action movie, Manns remains modest. In her words, “Any idiot can do my job,” ignoring the fact that few people would have the guts.
“It doesn’t seem like a lot to me,” Manns said. “It’s not a lot that I do. It’s just convincing the people that they’re worth saving themselves, sometimes. They just feel so hopeless and helpless.”
Today, Manns cites health issues that are forcing her to slow down.
The National Domestic Violence Hotline is 1-800-799-SAFE.