PEARLAND, Texas - We recently told you about domestic violence murders being on the rise in the Houston area and surpassing the number from this time last year. Well, we also told you we would continue to search for and share solutions to the problem.
So meet Opal Hill, a Houston-area mother who has made domestic abuse outreach her mission since her daughter’s life was taken too soon.
Arrijana Hill was just 16-years-old when she was killed by a boy she was dating at Pearland’s Dawson High School. She would have been 25 years old on June 18, and her mom has chosen to celebrate in a way that she hopes will save lives.
"Everyone had a fun time dressing up as if we were going to a gala for a princess party," Opal Hill smiles.
At the big bash, it isn’t the birthday girl receiving the presents. In fact, Arrijana Hill was only there in spirit, and the gift of two of her famous traits were given to those in attendance. She was known for loving and helping people.
"I saw that as a legacy and I wanted to continue it," Hill says.
So the mom in mourning founded ACH Rainbow, a domestic violence awareness non-profit. ACH are her daughter’s initials.
Hill had no idea for what would have been her daughter’s 25th birthday, she, her husband, and Arrijana’s two brothers would host a party where only Arrijana’s age progression photo would be there.
"We truly miss her. I mean that hurt us to the core."
16-year-old Arrijana was killed March 21, 2014, in her home in a gated Pearland community by a Dawson High schoolmate she was dating and pregnant by.
Hill has given thousands of dollars in scholarships through the foundation, in her daughter’s honor. And this year on Arrijana’s 25th birthday, her organization gave a teen mom money for college.
"Because that was one of her things that she (Arrijana) really wanted to do, one of her dreams," Mrs. Hill explains.
She hopes to empower youngsters, spread awareness about abuse, and tell parents to be aware of some signs, such as isolation from family.
"She was feeling like she was being forced to do some things that she preferred not to. She was feeling like this person is a different person than she thought he was initially. I want to say for the parents to just listen to what they’re saying, but what they’re not saying at the same time. There’s definitely a way to help get that person out of that predicament without them physically doing it themselves, because it is hard. It is unsafe," says Hill.
1 in 4 women will become a victim of violence by an intimate partner and 1 in 7 men. Experts point out one way to stop that is by foundations like this that give information and resources. The non-profit, of course, is in the name of a young lady, who even in death, is still helping others.
"I wanted it to make her smile and make it pleasing to God most of all. So I’m hoping she will say mommy I love you, and you are doing a great gesture in my honor," smiles Hill, who says she also wants to drive home one more point. Whether it’s been five weeks, five months, or 25 years of abuse, if you are in a domestic violence or a teen dating violence relationship, she is encouraging you to contact a domestic violence expert who can help you come up with a plan to safely leave.
"There’s a better way. There is a better you. Get out of that situation. There is a better life for you in your future. God has much more and a much better future for you," says Hill.
You can reach the National Domestic Violence Hotline at (800) 799-7233, the Houston Police Department Domestic Abuse Response Team at (713) 308-0080, or the Houston Area Women’s Center 24/7 Domestic Violence Hotline at (713) 528-2121.