CLEVELAND (WJW) — A local domestic violence survivor has taken that first crucial, but scary, step towards freedom from a secret bondage.

After suffering physical and psychological abuse from his on-again, off-again relationship with his son’s mother during the pandemic, Louis Travels knew he needed to walk away. But to where?

Travels says he reached out to 2-1-1 looking for assistance for him and his son, but was told no resources were available. So he stayed in the abusive home for months but eventually moved out.

“As a man, we have to have restraint,” Travels said. “Because if we lay a finger on her, we’re going to jail, the state is going to pick it up, there’s not going to be, you know, a slap on the wrist.”

When the abuse escalated, he redirected his desperate cry for help.

In a Facebook message to domestic violence survivor Laura Cowan, Travels wrote, “I need help. I don’t know what to do. I don’t know where to start.”

Cowan has been a domestic violence survivor advocate at the Cleveland Metropolitan Housing Authority for years and says she fields many Facebook messages each day from people wanting to get out of abusive relationships, just like Travels, where she gives them tangible help including how to file a protective order, how to get free daycare, and even free mental health counseling.

“Who do you call when you have a situation like that?” Cowan said. “Some people reach out to their pastor, some a relative, but, you know, you need professional help when you’re in a situation like that. And I was so glad he reached out to me, I was surprised… he’s off to a better start now.”

Cowan and other advocates say 1 in 9 men experience some sort of domestic violence, as well as 1 in 4 women.

If you or someone you know needs help, click here or call Speak Up Speak Loud at (216) 654-0008. You can also click here for help from Journey Center for Safety and Healing.

Ohio Legal Help has also launched a new online tool to make it easier for domestic abuse victims to file a Civil Protection Order. The tool can be found at