Over the past four decades
, we have been witness to the triumph of the human spirit in the face of intimate partner violence
. We have seen first hand the strength and courage of the victims of domestic abuse, and it has been our privilege to help thousands upon thousands of women rebuild their lives.
This is one of the many stories of hope for survivors of domestic abuse.
Patty was 20 years old and freshly out of school when she began working as the secretary for a powerful businessman. Over time, a relationship developed between the two of them and shortly thereafter, she found her life centered around the man that she loved.
Infatuated with their relationship, Patty did not pick up on the red flags that began to arise as the relationship grew. Her partner began to cut off her communications with family and friends. And while he had now successfully isolated her, she thought this behavior proved that he must really love her because he wanted to spend all of his time with her.
In 1996, Patty found out she was pregnant and her partner did not want her to have the child. This is another form of abuse found in relationships – reproductive coercion. He went as far as threatening her life and the life of her unborn child. Patty was at his mercy – she drove a car that he owned and lived in a house that he owned. He had stripped her financial independence from her without her even realizing it.
When Patty did have her daughter, he assured her that he would support them and that there was no need to get the courts involved. She thought things could get better.
As Patty’s daughter grew, the financial and emotional abuse increased. Physical abuse followed soon after. One day, Patty’s 4-year-old daughter came down the stairs to see her father strangling her mother. Patty’s daughter began to tell people in the neighborhood that her father hits her mother. Patty was embarrassed and ashamed.
“It was then that I had both a revelation and a meltdown all at the same time. I didn’t want my daughter to grow up and think this was okay, and that all men treat women this way.”
She knew that she needed to change her life, not only for herself but also for her daughter. Patty found Women’s Center & Shelter of Greater Pittsburgh and enrolled herself and her daughter in counseling. Through this counseling, Patty gained the strength to leave her abuser. She got connected to WC&S’ Legal Advocacy Department and fought long and hard for her freedom with our Legal Advocates by her side.
It was a long and painful battle, but today, Patty and her daughter are both thriving – living free from abuse.
“Women’s Center gave me hope when I thought all hope was gone. I learned how to set boundaries and we continue to work on ourselves on a daily basis. I have said it so often and will continue to say that I credit WC&S with helping to save our lives.”