Survivor Stories

Sheila’s Story –
Finding Freedom

Elderly African American Woman Resting With Her CaneSheila, a domestic violence survivor, came to counseling following the arrest of her long-time abuser. She was unsure at the time whether she wanted to end the relationship or not. Through the course of counseling she discovered the freedom to disclose much of the abuse for the first time, acknowledge the severity of the abuse, and the fact that it was not all due to the abuser’s substance abuse. During this time, she has been able to identify the healthy and unhealthy aspects of the relationship and assign responsibility where it belongs – with the abuser.

She has gained a sense of freedom, of choice and has chosen to end the relationship. She went to the jail and told the abuser this as well, for her own sense of closure. She has begun to work through the physical, mental and emotional effects of the abuse and to repair the relationships with others that had severed due to the control and isolation. She has been able to sort through many other unhealthy relationships by learning to set appropriate boundaries without feeling guilty about doing so. She has also been able to focus on effective parenting of her children and help them to cope with the effects that the abuser’s behavior and substance abuse had on them as well. She has found herself smiling and feeling happy again for the first time in a long time.

Angela’s story –
Angela sometimes brought her children, ages eight and 10, with her to see her counselor. One day, after a few visits with their mom, they asked the counselor’s favorite colors. Soon after, they came from the playroom with a bracelet made of those favorite colors. They also made a plate with a “C” of fuzzy balls that were glued to the plate. On one of the plates was a written note that said “thanks for helping mommy, Love, John.” It means a lot that they took the time to do this and to say thank you. They were very grateful that someone was helping their mom.

Nikki’s story –
Home for the Holidays
Portrait of young beautiful girl with freckles
The holidays can be stressful and overwhelming for anyone, but when in a crisis due to domestic violence, the holiday season can be exceptionally overwhelming. Nikki was very stressed and emotional and sought services from the FJC shortly before Christmas. Nikki came, crying and shaking, after her abusive boyfriend physically assaulted her and took her rent money, leaving her unable to pay the rent. And late fees were adding up. Even though she went to the landlord to explain her situation and that she would pay in two weeks, she was still given an eviction notice. It was the week before Christmas. Nikki was terrified of being homeless for the holidays with four children. She said the Family Justice Center was her last hope.

After assessing all of her needs, providing a safety plan and lethality assessment, the FJC case manager was able to provide her with assistance with her rent and help keep her from being evicted. The case manager was able to advocate for her regarding the eviction. Although the funds weren’t going to be paid overnight, the landlord agreed to stop the late fees and rescind the eviction. Nikki was so happy that she was able to get back on her feet and move forward from this stressful time in her life.

Pamela’s story –
Learning to Trust

Young sad woman alone

19-year-old Pamela arrived at the Family Justice Center not really knowing what to do or what to expect. She was timid and afraid. When she arrived, she wore a scarf completely wrapped around her face. She was hesitant to talk and was almost in denial about her situation. One of the things she did want to be sure of was that the counselor didn’t know her abuser and that her location would not get back to him. She visited with the case manager for a while but still didn’t completely open up. However, by the end of the visit, she did reveal she felt she was a victim of domestic violence. She left that day, telling her case manager she would return.

A week later, she did. She opened up and told the case manager that because of the first visit where she was made to feel comfortable, not judged, and cared for, she trusted her enough to come back and tell her story. Pamela endured years of sexual and physical abuse, and was forced to prostitute. After receiving the appropriate information for services and community resources, she felt she could tell her family about what she had been through. As she left that visit, she told the case manager, “God bless you and thanks for being a blessing to me and others.”

Two weeks later, Pamela called to tell the case manager that she had relocated to her mother’s home out of state and was ready to take the next step in getting her life back.