A Survivor’s Story
Many of you know that the YWCA Resolve program provides shelter for people experiencing domestic violence. What some of you may not know is that the shelter has a name – Hope House.
We chose the name for a reason. Hope is optimistic. With Hope, you know things are going to turn out ok. This story is about Kristin – about the hope we had for her and about the hope she regained during her time with us.
Kristin is from out west. She’s in her 40s. She had a wonderful, loving, 20-year marriage to a true partner. Unfortunately, her husband passed away.
Over time she realized her life wasn’t over and that she wanted more out of it. Not knowing how to meet people in an atmosphere that had completely changed since she last went on a date, she thought she’d give it a go with online dating. Pretty soon, she had met someone.
On screen, he was perfect. He said all the right things and, amazingly, they had so much in common. Eventually, he asked Kristin to come to West Virginia to live with him. He had a job and a house and she would have nothing to worry about.
Her family did not trust the situation, and they left her with an ultimatum: if you leave, you are leaving without our blessing and you are on your own. She made a very difficult decision but one she thought was best for her.
The physical and emotional abuse started almost immediately. Kristin quickly realized that the person she thought she knew didn’t exist at all. The person that she HOPED to spend the rest of her life with wasn’t the person she was spending all of her days with. Because Kristin had been in a supportive marriage she knew what a healthy relationship felt like. She knew THIS wasn’t it.
Kristin came to Hope House from CAMC. She was in very bad shape both emotionally and physically. She was beaten so badly staff placed her in the handicapped accessible bedroom as she couldn’t climb the stairs. Her arm was in a cast. Her eyes were black.
She didn’t leave Hope House for the longest time. She was afraid her abuser would find her, she was embarrassed about how she looked, and she was embarrassed about her situation. All too often we see this – victims feeling the shame and embarrassment that their abusers should feel.
So, we set about doing what we do. We brought Kristin some Hope. Through all that she was provided at Hope House, we started to see Kristin make significant progress.
By taking part in our support group and counseling, she was able to see that she wasn’t the only one taken in by someone who wasn’t who they seemed. (Just in case you don’t know, ALL of the services we offer at Resolve are free! We can only do that with the help of this wonderful community that continues to bless us with overwhelming support.) With this support, Kristin was able to gain the tools necessary to start rebuilding her relationship with her family. She was fully prepared to help them understand what she needed from them and how they could help.
Using what she learned from our advocates on staff, she was able to look at her situation and recognize that while the past three months had been some of the worst of her life she was incredibly fortunate to have had a solid relationship of 20 years. She was able to see that what was happening to her was wrong. But most importantly, she had the strength in her to leave and not go back.
This is the story of one person who has come to us at Hope House. 183 women stayed at Hope House in 2017. By supporting YWCA Resolve through fully tax-deductible donations, donating items to the shelter, or participating in Girls Night Out, YOU are bringing HOPE to women who have nowhere else to turn. Check out gnowv.com for how to get involved and to read other stories about Why We GNO.