Tackling Domestic Violence – One Woman’s Nightmare Turned Into a Mission to Help Others

August 30, 2018

Written By

Mary Friona Celani

Every 9 seconds a woman is battered in the United States.

Think about that.

By the time you read a sentence, post a tweet, take a sip of coffee – another woman is abused.


Domestic violence permeates all communities. It does not discriminate. It can and does happen to anyone.

It happened to Laura Lewis Mason.

Laura Lewis-Mason with her children

“I have lived with and endured all forms of domestic abuse for almost 15 years in my second marriage. Emotional, physical, psychological and financial. The emotional and psychological abuse was daily and the physical was random and unexpected,” Lewis-Mason bravely shared with me in an interview, “I was in a cycle and didn’t even realize it. My abuser was a master… tormented me daily and manipulated every situation. He manufactured so many responses in me that I felt as if I was truly crazy. Every decision and reaction in my life was based on what his responses would be. He made me feel as if I deserved it. It became my daily norm. It changed me. My decision making, my values, my family interactions.. eventually at one point I called the police during a physically abusive situation. As a result I endured public humiliation of my hometown court, and police. I had to make police reports at the police station in addition to have photos taken of my injuries. I had to find arrangements for my children during this time.”

Eventually, thankfully, Lewis-Mason got out of that relationship. She picked up the pieces and is now living a full, happy life with her family while working to help others, “Eventually I left on my own but not without my entire community knowing my business. There was no family justice center at the time in my life and despite not having access to a FJC in my hometown of Grand Island I was one of the lucky ones and championed domestic violence on my own. If there was an FJC in my life I may have not been in the relationship so long. I would not have endured public humiliation in the Grand Island court system. I would have access to all the services in one location with people who don’t judge. As a result of my experience I became an advocate for the family justice center.”

Lewis-Mason has found happiness again in her 12 year marriage to John

The Grand Island resident decided to help the victims in her own community – which, says Lewis-Mason – has more calls of domestic abuse than any other community in Erie County. So, she’s been working to open a Family Justice Center in Grand Island. Right now, there is a temporary office and a permanent home is in the works.

The Family Justice Center saves lives and Lewis-Mason hopes one in her community will do just that.

The temporary FJC is open on Grand Island

At Family Justice Center locations you can expect to find a collaboration of services with several partner agencies all located in a private, safe, secure environment with loving caring professionals. An FJC advocate will assess your situation and determine if you are safe. They will help you develop a safety plan. If you need a place to stay, they can connect you to a safe home. If you need legal services they will provide you with the ability to get a restraining order/order of protection. If you need medical services they will provide you with evaluation and treatment. All of these comprehensive services can be provided by the FJC in one location.

Of course, she can’t do this alone.

“Folks can help bring awareness to domestic abuse or ring awareness to the family justice center on Grand Island. We have a temporary location located at 1801 Grand Island Boulevard, Suite 3. We are raising money to build our permanent location on the property. Georgy Panepinto and Russ Certo have been amazing in donating their time and resources to help make this a success.”

A fundraiser is being held to help raise money for this important mission.

WHEN: Sunday, September 2, 2018 from 4 to 10 p.m.

WHERE: The Buffalo Launch Club, 503 East River Road, Grand Island

COST: $25 in advance, $30 at the door.


Great music, food and fun!

Featuring local musicians Scott Celani, Wise Alex and Zach and Jonah and our headliner, Absolute Journey, a Journey tribute band.

*Silent Auction
*Basket Raffle
*Celebrity Guests
*Cash Bar

All proceeds will go to the new Family Justice Center on Grand Island.

The Family Justice Center provides free services for domestic violence victims and their children through an extensive collaboration with several partner agencies, all located at one secured, comfortable location, where victims can get all the services they need to safely escape abuse.




  • 1 in 4 women are victims of domestic violence
  • 1 in 7 men are victims of domestic violence
  • 16-24 year olds have the highest rate of domestic violence
  • There is one woman battered every 9 seconds in the US
  • So far this year, the JC had almost 1250 hotline calls and have developed 736 safety plans.


  • As in a private setting
  • Express concern
  • Listen and Validate
  • Offer help by referring them to a family justice center
  • Support their decisions.


  • Wait for your friend to come to you
  • Judge or blame. Don’t ask, “Why don’t you just leave?”
  • Pressure them
  • Give advice
  • Place conditions on your support

If you are in trouble – call 9-1-1 or the Erie County Hotline at 716-862-HELP(4357) or National hotline – 1-800-799-SAFE (7233).

Domestic violence can and does happen to anyone. Thanks to brave people like Laura Lewis-Mason – we can help end this terrible abuse and empower victims to seek help and find happiness and peace once again.



About Me

Welcome to Totally Buffalo! My name is Mary Friona-Celani and I am the creator of this site! After spending 20 years in the Buffalo media, I moved on to focus on my beautiful family. Now, the time has come for a new project. I was ready for something new. Something mine.
I am born and raised in WNY and my pride runs deep. My husband, Scott and I are very happy to be raising our four daughters here.






Submit a Comment