Surviving the Unthinkable
Jessica lived a life that many people only dreamed of having. She had gone to college, was financially successful, and about to marry the man she loved.
After the wedding Jessica realized her husband was not who he had seemed. He cut off her access to their finances and managed to isolate her from her friends and family. The abuse started with her husband verbally belittling her in front of their child. Things quickly escalated and Jessica became fearful of her husband who began to physically abuse her. After threatening to leave, Jessica’s husband sexually abused her in an attempt to get her pregnant and make her stay.
Financially and emotionally dependent on her abuser, Jessica was prevented from escaping with her two children. Her husband threatened to press kidnapping charges if she had ever left with their children.
Jessica suffered progressively worse abuse for years. She feared for her life and her children’s lives. Her husband was arrested because of the abuse and she received a restraining order. But he continually stalked her in shelters and had her followed while he was in prison. It wasn’t until Jessica was informed to make a safety plan for her family was she finally able begin to break free from her abuser.
After getting a divorce and learning of multiple attempts on her life, Jessica and her family had to upend their lives. She had to change their identities and leave her college degree and her business success in the past.
At SafeStep for nearly two years, Jessica has been provided with a safe home, various employment opportunities and the counseling that she and her children need to begin again. Jessica has learned to cope with her past and strengthen her connections with her children. Once her time at SafeStep is complete, she hopes to find a permanent home to live with her family free from the violence of her former abuser.
Providing Safety and Support to Succeed
Growing up in a dysfunctional family wasn’t easy for Mary. After getting a job and moving out of her mother’s house, Mary thought she had finally found the independence she had sought her entire life. But her lack of support caused vulnerability. Mary quickly found herself in an verbally and physically abusive relationship with the father of her two children.
Mary’s boyfriend was involved in a variety of illegal activities. Coupled with the abuse she suffered at home, she lost custody of her children.
Determined to get her children back, she moved into a domestic violence shelter. Soon after, Mary was accepted into the SafeStep program in January 2014. Here she found the emotional support and independence she had been searching for all her life.
While in SafeStep, Mary got her degree and pursued a career in accounting to provide for her family. Day by day she worked towards her goals and maintained permanent housing. After graduating from the program in summer 2015, Mary has become a self-sufficient young women. She secured job in customer service, a home, and utilizes the coping and problem solving skills that she learned through her SafeStep counseling.
“Mary has developed into an independent and determined woman who learned a lot about her rights and responsibilities.” – SafeStep staff member
Currently, Mary lives in subsidized state housing with her two children. Through SafeStep, she was provided with the furniture to outfit her new apartment and the continued counseling of SafeStep staff members. Mary knows she has much more healing and growth to do before she leaves the safety and support she receives through transitional housing programs.
In the future, Mary hopes to earn her degree in Human Services so she can help survivors of domestic violence. She knows SafeStep will be there to encourage her during her successful journey.
A Place to Call Home
Susan and her husband, who was working for the government, got the chance to move to the United States from their home on the west coast of Africa. She knew this was going to mean more opportunity for her family and worked hard and saved money to make the move. Susan’s husband was distant, but she was convinced that it was just the pressures of moving. She was shocked when her husband informed her there was only enough funds for him to move. Confused and alone, Susan took her life savings and retirement benefits to bring herself and her two children to join her husband in America.
After arriving in the US, Susan’s husband resented her for coming to America and he began to emotionally and physically abuse her in front of the children—kicking her in the face, calling her names—all to belittle her.
Susan could no longer take the abuse and decided to take action. She was granted a restraining order and assigned to a shelter where she spent the next four months living with her children. Although all three were living in one bedroom, the safe environment provided Susan with the peace of mind she needed to take her next step towards independence.
After telling her children they have to move to another shelter and devastating them each time they had to leave their friends and school, Susan began to look for a program that would provide her family with the permanence and safety they needed to succeed.
She found SafeStep and looks forward to providing a safe, stable, and emotionally supportive life where her family can thrive and she can learn to provide financial and emotional stability for her children.