In the fiscal year 2012-2013, 471 women and children stayed in our shelter for a combined total of 14,439 nights. The average length of stay is 39 days. Here is one woman’s story…
It’s been about 10 days since I came to Women’s Center & Shelter for the second time. I can remember the initial fear; the not knowing what would happen or what could happen, and the numerous concerns I had of not being able to care for my infant daughter and myself. That initial fear is why I left shelter and went back to him the first time. I came here a few months back and only stayed here for 3 days. I thought it would be better when I returned home, because he said it would be. But it only got worse, worse than it was before. So I reached out and seized the opportunity to come here again. Though all of the memories and thoughts of my experience remain and creep into my head from time to time, I try to be positive and utilize as much of the programs offered as I can this time.
Today I woke up, got ready, and fed my daughter breakfast that was so graciously provided. I then attended the community meeting to meet the other new women, stated my current emotion that I am feeling, and made a goal for the day. After the meeting I took my daughter to the Children’s Program so that I was able to get some things done. She is able to play and interact with other kids and staff there. It has really helped both of us. My daughter used to get really anxious when she was not with me or even if someone else tried to pick her up just a few feet away from me, as would I. Now, after some time in the safe environment provided here, we are both less anxious in general and when she is apart from me. I do still get anxious, as does she, when she visits with her father. This has been very difficult for me, but the Legal Department has helped a great deal with this process. They informed me of my rights and lead me through the process of getting a PFA so that he cannot contact me and so his visitations are minimal and I have a say in what happens. I finally felt like I had a voice. He has tried to fight and gain custody but hasn’t been able to obtain it. Once he tried by calling CYF against me, saying I abused my daughter. He threatened to call them many times in the past. I was so glad though when CYF came out to the shelter and met with me and the WC&S CYF Advocate; and they realized that this was a way of him trying to control me and get me to come home again. CYF didn’t open a case because they saw my daughter was fine and they knew the reasons for which we were here.
But today is about me, not about him. Today I am going to complete the goals I set for myself, which is to meet with Ondrea, the Career Development Coordinator, to get signed up for school and complete the necessary paperwork for her program. Then I will pick up my daughter from the Children’s Program, feed her lunch that was prepared by another resident as a chore, and meet with the Housing Advocate to prepare for my upcoming appointment with transitional housing. And then once that is all complete, I am going to go to attend the evening support group to help me along my healing journey. Today in group we are making collages that represent us in the past, and more importantly us now, and in the future. Though I can’t imagine my future yet without any distress from him; I know that each day that I am here, I have the support of the staff to help get me through. Each day I am going to move forward. Tomorrow I will attend the yoga session held here at the shelter, visit with the med clinic to have myself and my daughter checked out, and update my goal plan with one of the shelter staff members. Though it took a lot for me to get to where I am, now I see each day as a step toward a brighter future for my daughter and I. I am very grateful for this organization, and wouldn’t have made it each day thus far without the safety, support, and empowerment that this place offers.
This client was from out of the country and endured abuse for a period of time due to fear that her abuser’s threats of keeping her baby and deporting her were going to happen. When she left shelter and returned home his threats increased from threats to deport her to telling her that he would kill her and their child. This is when she chose to return to shelter. She utilized our services during her second stay up until she left to go to her new housing. While in shelter, she worked on things such as her financial planning, filing for child support, applying for full custody, her immigration status, signing up for school, emotional healing, and housing options. She ended up getting into a transitional housing program where she lives with her daughter. She attends school, obtained a work permit and is in the process of getting her Visa. She recently wrote us a card stating “no words can express the gratitude”. She and her daughter are both doing great and are happy.