Personality: Timika Cousins

Spotlight on founder of The Faces Behind The Purpose For You

10/19/2017, 6:05 p.m.
Personal tragedy led Timika Cousins to become an advocate against domestic violence after her beloved cousin was murdered by an …

Personal tragedy led Timika Cousins to become an advocate against domestic violence after her beloved cousin was murdered by an abusive husband in 2014.

“My cousin was always a happy-go-lucky person,” says Ms. Cousins. “She did not tell us what she was going through so we did not know what was taking place in her home life. I was in shock and terrified after her death. Then it became my calling and in my spirit to speak out and educate my community about domestic violence. I wanted to understand the many ways domestic violence can show up in relationships.”

Ms. Cousins’ concern — and compassion — led her to create The Faces Behind The Purpose For You, an organization that supports victims of domestic violence. Two months after the organization was formed in August 2016, Ms. Cousins presented “Slay for a Purpose Fashion Show” to raise awareness and funds to support these victims.

Armed with the success of last year’s show, which sold out and attracted about 200 people, Ms. Cousins is excited about this year’s show on Saturday, Oct. 28.

“Some of our models are victims of abuse and we do a makeover for them,” says Ms. Cousins. “We show them, through fashion, that they are beautiful and they are still somebody.”

The event, which takes place during Domestic Violence Awareness Month, will provide more than fashion and entertainment, says Ms. Cousins. It also will be informative and uphold her organization’s mission to educate others about domestic violence and its effect on individuals and families “in every community, regardless of age, economic status, sexual orientation, gender, race or nationality.”

Abuse comes in many forms, including emotional, psychological, financial, sexual, physical and spiritual, says Ms. Cousins. Abusers employ various methods to exert power and control over their victims.

“Abuse happens to men, women, siblings and in friendships, and it’s important to note that domestic violence doesn’t always manifest in one specific way, but comes in a lot of signs and layers,” says Ms. Cousins.

“I tell people to put your relationship on a trial basis. Take time to get to know each other better. Ask questions. Find out about the person’s background. Take note of abusive signs — pushing, fighting, hitting, harsh language or being defensive.”

Combating abusive power and control isn’t easy, which leads the organization’s outreach director and volunteers to enter high-risk communities to conduct awareness workshops, advocacy and training for people involved in domestic disputes and violence.

“Our programs include one-on-one mentoring, tutoring, financial counseling — showing people how to save money in order to get out of their situation where they are solely dependent on the abuser,” says Ms. Cousins.

Résumé-building services and job-seeking strategies for victims in need of employment are also provided. “The key is to build victims’ self-esteem, and we educate them about the red flags of abuse through scenarios about the signs and layers of abuse,” she says. “It’s easy for someone to tell you to leave or just go, but it’s not that easy when you are in that situation.”

The Faces Behind the Purpose For You offers prevention services in Richmond and Chesterfield and Henrico counties. While the fashion show is a way to raise awareness about the organization, it also honors individuals who have survived domestic violence and remembers those who have died.

“I want people to know The Faces Behind The Purpose is here for you as an organization,” says Ms. Cousins. “You can trust us. Many women coming for help do not have that trust and it is hard work building that trust.”

Meet this week’s Personality, advocate against domestic violence and founder of The Faces Behind The Purpose, Timika Cousins:

Occupation: Customer service representative, Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield.

Date of birth: Dec. 12, 1978.

Current residence: City of Richmond.

Education: John Marshall High School.

Family: One son, Stanley Fields III, 15; one daughter, Mia Cousins, 11.

When and why The Faces Behind a Purpose for You was founded: The Faces Behind a Purpose for You was founded on Aug. 23, 2016. The organization was founded because of my cousin, Lisa Hester Morgan, who lost her life in 2014 due to domestic violence. Although she’s my cousin our relationship was more that of a niece and aunt. It’s because of victims like Lisa, also known as Claire, that motivates us in reaching out to the community and providing services to others in efforts to prevent and bring awareness to domestic violence and sexual abuse.

Inspiration for its name: Because of my cousin’s death, I was inspired to bring awareness to domestic violence while helping survivors and their immediate families. Ultimately, The Faces Behind a Purpose for You is the face for Lisa Morgan and all domestic victims and survivors.

The Faces Behind a Purpose for You foremost mission: Our purpose is to give individuals the opportunity to learn from their circumstances and understand that they can continue to progress in positive ways and in positive settings despite past experiences. The Faces Behind a Purpose for You intervenes through advocacy. Our organization works with individuals to assess their needs while serving as a resource or as a liaison between them and other available resources.

Strategy for achieving mission: To educate people about the signs of domestic violence, to be diligent in relationship building within our communities, and to provide resources within the school systems. Our strategy is simple: The Faces Behind a Purpose for You is a dedicated resource to those victims of domestic violence and their immediate families.

Why I am excited about this organization: Our organization continues to make great progress. We are amazed at the progress we’ve achieved in just one year. God has truly blessed our organization to be a major resource for families as far away as Dallas. We are even more excited about 2018.

Dream for organization: Among the many short- and long-term goals we have for our organization is to secure several transitional homes in Richmond and other localities.

How I define “domestic violence”: We will be here all day if I offered my definition of domestic violence. There are so many layers and dimensions of domestic violence. However, I will define domestic violence as a pattern of abusive behavior in any relationship that is used by one person to gain or maintain power and control over another person. Domestic violence can be physical, sexual, spiritual, emotional, economic or psychological actions or threats of actions that influence another person. This includes any behavior that intimidates, manipulates, humiliates, isolates, frightens, terrorizes, coerces, threatens, blames, hurts, injures or wounds someone.

The reason domestic violence exists is: Lack of knowledge about the signs of an unhealthy relationship. Another factor is a lack of communication skills when it comes to resolving conflict, which continues to contribute to the high murder rates in our cities. A significant percentage of those numbers are derived from incidents of domestic violence. 

Number of people served since 2016: Six cases. Most frequently requested service: Safety planning and home replacement, which is ultimately why we desire a transitional home.

Our support comes from: Much of my support comes from my mother, Sandra Cousins, my family and various community advocates. However, Mr. Maurice Tyler, founder of C.A.V.E. (Coaches Against Violence Everywhere) continues to (be a supporter) and is someone who strives for excellence within the city of Richmond. I cannot leave out my executive board and organization group members. Without their support, there is no me. 

Number of volunteers: Two.

Our biggest challenge: Not enough hours in the day to bring awareness to domestic violence because our hearts beat to save everyone.

We could do more if: We had additional support from people in the community and more hours in a day.

If I could have one wish, it would be: To cease domestic violence across the nation.

How I start the day: Talking to “the man upstairs” and a cup of coffee.

A quote that I am inspired by: I am too blessed to be stressed and too anointed to be disappointed. And have a blessed day everybody!!!

If I had more time, I would: Spend most of my time in the communities and in the schools educating our future leaders about anger management, conflict resolution and leadership skills.

Best late-night snack: Grapes.

Person who influenced me the most: My grandmother, Louise Morgan.

The book that influenced me the most: “Become a Successful Life Coach” by Brenna Pearce and Allan M. Heller.

What I’m reading now: “Sand’s Castle: Going Through in Order To Get There,” a book about domestic violence by Sandra Camp of Dover, Del.

My next goal: To obtain our first transitional home.