September 24, 2012
Today, I am sharing a first hand account from a friend of mine who needed to live in a safe shelter for a period of time. She has graciously agreed to let me share her story. Names and identifying information has been removed to protect the family. This letter was written by a person who utilized the services of a local domestic abuse shelter. We urge any and every one to support their local shelter. Far too often we form inaccurate impressions about single moms and people who need a hand. I am proud of the difficult decision my friend made to protect her children and get back on her feet. I also invite each and every one of us a chance to walk a mile in her shoes.
Thank you, my friend, for your honesty and love. You're in my thoughts daily.
To Whom it May Concern,
It will be difficult to convey, in the body of a letter, the amount of appreciation I have for the ABC shelter, for its programs and staff, and for its parent organization, XYZ services. At the risk of sounding cliche’ or overly dramatic, the truth is that ABC was instrumental in saving my life and, hence, the lives of my children.
I am referring to a literal “life saving” as I was so beaten down, confused, isolated and exhausted by the time I turned to the ABC in late 2009, that I could no longer see the benefit of being alive. My self esteem and dignity were such that I entertained the thought that even my children may be better off without me. I had unknowingly enabled the cycles of power and control to exist within my marriage for 13 years by that time. My husband had broken my bones, secretly fathered a child with a mistress, and abandoned my children and me, leaving, literally, nothing. We had no support in the area. We lost our home, car, bank accounts, and so forth. Few people believed me when I finally revealed the ugly happenings within my family....until I spoke with a kind counselor at the ABC. That was the first moment of transformation for my children and I, although it took me a very long time to realize it.
My children were X and X years old at the time. My goal was to keep them both living as “normal” of a life as was possible, to feel loved, and to model for them hope and confidence (which were, admittedly, feigned at the beginning as I myself was dangling at the end of my proverbial rope.)
My youngest was largely insulated from the crisis within our family because of his age. He loved the ABC. To this day, he refers to it as “the hotel” and loves to visit on the nights I attend the women’s support group. We made friends there and he loved that there was a Wii in the living area, and lots of food. :-) He was very comfortable in our “hotel room”, and enjoyed the staff who treated both children very well.
My oldest son was uncomfortable when we first arrived, because of the procedures involved with keeping the building secure. He said, when we first arrived, that he felt like he was in jail. However, by the end of our stay, he liked the locked door. He had grown to feel very safe and secure and I am sure he sensed that I, his only caregiver, also finally felt safe and was able to rest for the first time in years. When we left, he said he missed that security.
Both boys enjoyed “the treat closet” and I loved that if I was ever without hats or mittens, the staff would find something for us. I loved the availability of certain things that helped me so much at that time, such as a gas card at one point when I needed it, free coupons for the boys’ haircuts, groceries, even bathroom supplies when I was without. Knowing that my children and I were in a safe environment, getting rest, and having people on staff at all times who understood what we were going through, was such a blessing.
During my stay, I began an education in domestic abuse, sociopathy, power and control, and so forth. The knot in my mind slowly began to loosen. Without that education, I don’t know that I could have taken necessary steps toward emotional health. I was also made aware of community resources which I have since fully utilized to create a new life for myself and my children.
The women’s support group, the family crisis hotline, and the excellent advocate services still continue to help us transition and to deal with our family history and its ongoing collateral challenges. I have also taken advantage of XYZ's other programs.
The shelter and all of its related programs were invaluable to myself and, therefore, to my children. Their future families will likewise benefit from the safety, care, education and support we received. I have come to know many other women and children who have passed through the doors of the ABC with stories parallel to my own. I am certain countless individuals benefit from the existence of the ABC. I shudder to think of how my story would have been different if I hadn’t found it.
Please feel free to contact me at any time with any questions regarding my experiences with ABC services.
A grateful mother