The road from crisis to confidence isn't an easy one — not when you've dealt with years of broken bones, black eyes and a constant litany of verbal threats.
It's a road that often takes a lot of twists and turns.
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But, often, the path leads to CASA (Citizens Assisting and Sheltering the Abused).
Here, victims hope to escape a life of uncertainty and beatings and break the cycle of domestic violence.
They expect to be welcomed by a group of women who will offer support and counseling through a traumatic experience.
They don't expect to see a man.
But a journey shared is a journey halved.
And Joe Gentile wants to do his part to help abused women find a better way of life.
Since 2005, Gentile has been a volunteer with CASA.
Every Wednesday, he leaves his home in Berkeley Springs, W.Va., and heads to the nonprofit organization's offices in Hagerstown, where he performs a variety of tasks.
Some days, he's moving furniture into CASA's shelter. Other days, he's picking up donations or unpacking boxes of supplies.
In warm weather, it's not unusual to see him outside landscaping the office grounds.
"It was one of the first things I did when I arrived at CASA," Gentile said. "I wanted to make it more appealing, more visually cheerful to women coming here for help. It's a way of saying ‘from this point on, your life is going to be a little better.'"
Gentile, who will be 68 in February, said he began volunteering with CASA after seeing a number of women in his community "who were obvious victims of domestic violence."
A member of Hancock United Methodist Church, Gentile said he approached his pastor about what he could do for the women, other than praying for them.
"My pastor was familiar with CASA and knew they needed someone to do some heavy lifting," Gentile said. "He asked if I would like to work one day a week. And, naturally, I said yes."
The Morgan County man said he has become somewhat of a jack-of-all-trades at CASA, doing chores at both the office and the Hagerstown shelter.
"I feel, in a small way, I'm making a difference in women's lives," he said. "I'm doing something that will, hopefully, make their day better."
Though he's considered indispensable by CASA's staff, Gentile modestly said "it's no big academic achievement. It's just a day of manual labor. I don't do it for the acclaim."