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Stories of Hope

Child Witness

Marianne knew the violence in her home was hurting her son Charlie. She just didn’t know how much until she found him hiding in the backyard flower beds after one particularly bad fight with her husband. Coming to HDNBC helped her learn how to help Charlie cope with what he had seen through play and art therapy.

Brighter Days

Savannah’s mom had always told her that there would be brighter days, but ten-year-old Savannah doubted that.  Since she was five, she witnessed her step-father abusing her mom countless times.  It wasn’t until he hit Savannah that her mom decided to seek help.  Finally in HDNBC’s emergency shelter, Savannah and her mom truly learned that there really were brighter days!

So a Kid Can Be a Kid

Aiden is the type of kid who’s always into something.  But, he learned to be very quiet and still when his mom’s boyfriend would come visit.  If Aiden were quiet and still, his mom wouldn’t get hurt.  Since coming to HDNBC, Aiden has learned that it’s okay to be himself.  It’s okay to run, jump and play. It’s okay to be a kid.

A New Day’s Dawn

Karen used to think that things would never change, that she would always be afraid--for herself and for her daughter.  She came to HDNBC weighed down with that fear.  However, when her six-year old daughter, Kayla, showed her a picture of sunrise that she drew while in a counseling group, Karen saw that a new day had dawned--for herself and for Kayla.

Nightmares

Randy used to wake up in the middle of the night with terrible nightmares.  They were worst after his parents have been fighting.  But since coming to HDNBC, the nightmares have faded and have been replaced with big dreams for the future.

A Three-year-old’s Understanding

At three years old, Jamie didn’t understand why his mommy and daddy fought so much.  But he did understand that fights made his mommy cry--a lot.  Since coming to HDNBC, Jamie now sees that Mommy doesn’t cry anymore.  And that makes Jamie smile--a lot.

Child Witnesses

Melia wants to be a doctor when she grows up because she wants to fix broken hearts, like her mommy’s.  She said her mommy’s heart broke because her daddy used to hit her.  But with the help of HDNBC, Melia said her mommy’s heart is now better.  However, she still wants to be a doctor.

Love is Respect

Christy never knew that love isn’t supposed to involve shouting, yelling, or name-calling.  So when her first boyfriend started doing that, she thought it was because he loved her.  Attending a teen dating violence prevention workshop at HDNBC taught her that love isn’t those things.  Love is respect.

Group Counseling Teen

Growing up is hard, especially when your home isn’t a happy one.  Kevin knew that.  He also knew that he didn’t want to be like his dad.  Participating in a counseling group just for teens helped him learn how to identify his feelings and express them in a healthy way.

Peace, Joy and Hope

These words were rarely spoken in my house before I came to HDNBC.  Before I left my abuser, my house was filled with violence, sadness and fear.  I never thought that things could be different--that I was capable of making things better.  When I finally was able to escape my abuser, I came to HDNBC and began to realize that peace, joy and hope were possible for me and my children.

Now I am safe.  I am building a life free from violence for my children.  I now have peace, joy, and hope.

A Chance Meeting and Well-Being

From a Counselor

Just so you know, saw Ben, Ana, and Sabine in WalMart yesterday!

It was so great to see them!  They were all three smiling at me as I walked in the front door!  Ben ran up to me and gave me a hug.  We were all talking at once!  Ben is doing GREAT in school and is off of all medication!  He spent a lot of time telling me all about different books he’s been reading and how he loves reading now.  He has all As in his classes, except for spelling.  Sabine said he is doing so much better after not being on the meds and she’s constantly finding him off in a corner reading!  He was also telling me about how his daycare class goes on field trips and has lots of fun learning about Bible adventures (his day care is at a church).  Ana is looking so much older!  Her face doesn’t look so much like a young child anymore.  She was speaking very clearly and was so sweet.  She said, “Man, we see EVERYbody in WalMart!”  Haha.

Sabine said she’s also doing very well in school!  Sabine is doing great.  Since leaving group she has gotten a few raises at work.  She has one more class until she’s transferring to UNT/UTD (I can’t remember which).  She was all smiles, too, and just thanked me and said that she really believes group made a big difference in all of their lives.  Of course, I just told her she and her children did all the work!  They all looked so great and happy.  And SOOOOOO well-behaved!  Just thought you all might like to know how they’re doing!

Outpatient Support and Kindness of the Community

Amy came into the shelter, leaving a twenty-four-year marriage to a very abusive alcoholic.  Among other things, she had endured being slapped, kicked, being shot with a BB gun, and also economic and emotional abuse.  Amy brought her ten-year-old son with her, and very little else.  She had no money. HDNBC gave her and her son a supply of clothing and personal hygiene products, and got her settled into a private room with her son at the shelter.  After a good night’s rest, a Social Worker met with her to help her to form a plan of action.  Amy had a ninth grade education, but had some good skills in the printing industry.  Our staff helped her do a professional resume and arranged for her to get some professional business clothing from our Resale Store through our Voucher Program.  A local hairstylist came to the shelter and cut and styled her hair, and she was given make-up.  She was referred to a local organization for gasoline for her car.  With these basics, she was able to get a job rather quickly and was able to save her money while staying at the shelter since she didn’t have any expenses.

Several evenings a week, she attended a support group in which she was given domestic abuse education, including the “cycle of violence,” the difference between healthy relationships and relationships built around power and control, and warning signs of abusive personalities.  She also received individual counseling so that she could work on her own individual issues.  Her son attended support groups and counseling provided by a professional child therapist.

Amy hadn’t been allowed to go to a dentist for many years, and was in pain from an abscessed tooth.  We referred her to a local dentist who volunteers his services to our clients.  Amy also had very crooked and decayed front teeth.  She was very self-conscious about this and rarely smiled.  When she did smile she would hold her hand in front of her mouth to hide her teeth.  The dentist offered to replace her bad front teeth with dentures!  Amy wept with joy while telling staff this exciting news.

Amy’s son was given a backpack full of school supplies and settled into a local school.  He enjoyed the visit from Santa, the toys, and all the planned activities provided for children.  When he first arrived he seemed sad, confused, and frightened, but we watched him develop more self-confidence and become a happier and more outgoing child.

Amy was able to find an apartment that she could afford, but didn’t have enough money to cover the first month’s rent, so through a grant, we were able to pay a month’s rent.  In addition, we provided food and household essentials to get her started.

Amy and her son are now in their own place, and are attending our support group for ongoing therapy.  Amy stopped by and showed off her new smile.  She said that things are going very well, that her son loves his new school and new friends, and that they both love their new life.  She said that she will be forever grateful for all that HDNBC has done for her.

A Birth and New Beginning

Anna and her mother entered our shelter when Anna was in her eighth month of pregnancy.  She felt that she had to leave her very verbally and emotionally abusive husband out of concern for her unborn child.  Her husband was extremely controlling and irrationally jealous.  He did many things to try to isolate her from her friends and family and was even jealous of her relationship with her mother who had come to stay with them to help out when the baby was born.  He would “rant and rave” for many hours at a time and was constantly humiliating her.  He told her that when they were out in public that she must walk behind him and keep her eyes lowered.  He is from a country where women are considered inferior to men and have few rights.  Anna, who is from Mexico, was new to the area, and she and her mother had no one that they could turn to.  When Anna heard that there is a National Domestic Violence Hotline, she called it and was referred her to us.

Anna’s baby was born two weeks after she came into the shelter.  One of our volunteers drove her to the hospital and was her “coach” during labor.  When she came back with the baby, HDNBC staff and volunteers gave her a baby shower and decorated the door to her room with “It’s a Girl” signs.  Anna and her mom were overwhelmed with the kindness that they had been shown and thrived emotionally.  However, Anna had financial barriers to deal with.

Although Anna had a good job as a teacher, because of her pregnancy, childbirth and her abusive situation, she had missed a lot of work for which she was not paid.  Her husband had controlled all the money and she had come into the shelter penniless.  HDNBC was able to pay her first month’s rent in her new apartment for her.  We also referred her to people who had furniture and baby equipment that they wanted to donate.  Anna, her mother and her newborn baby were able to move into a completely set-up apartment.

Anna is in our Outreach support group now and continues to benefit from that program.  She is a much happier and more self-confident woman now.  She is looking forward to bringing up her daughter in a safe, non-abusive home.

Financial Abuse

We often hear about the stories of physical abuse and it is easy to see the physical impacts it has on victims, but emotional, verbal and financial abuse often is not recognized as important as the physical.  The story I want to share with you is a story of a client who I will call Sharon.  Sharon was a highly educated woman who was a stay-at-home mom.  Sharon left work after she had a child who was diagnosed with special needs.

Sharon’s abuser traveled constantly due to business.  He frequently was out of town for weeks even months at a time.  During these extended business trips, Sharon would be left with no gas money, no food and no resources.  She frequently experienced long periods of time when her abuser would shut off or not pay for various utilities such as water, phone and electricity.  During these times Sharon would be stressed out about how she would feed, clothe and transport her children.  This continued abuse caused severe depression.  Sharon wanted to leave much sooner but her abuser put most of the bills in her name and would never pay them.  He only paid the bills in his personal name in order to keep his credit intact.  Sharon’s credit on the other hand was absolutely ruined!  Therefore, even if she did leave her abuser, she had no credit to obtain housing, a car, or any other services she needed that was dependent on her credit.  Her credit even prevented her from getting certain well-paying jobs.

Sharon felt as though she had no options.  She had come from humble beginnings.  She had put herself through college and graduate school because her family did not have the resources to assist her in obtaining this level of education.

Sharon, a very smart and beautiful woman, had shut down.  She was so overwhelmed and depressed that she could not function.  She did the only thing she knew to do.  She called HDNBC’s 24-hour hotline looking for help.  The advocate who spoke to her could sense the level of stress and depression she was experiencing due to abuse.

The advocate told her to come into the shelter.  When she entered the shelter, she could not even think clearly, she cried often and did not trust anyone.  We worked with her slowly only giving her one goal a day in the beginning to prevent her from becoming overwhelmed and shutting down.  This process began to build trust so that she felt safe with the shelter staff.  Her self-esteem and confidence began to build in her own abilities as she successfully achieved one goal at a time.  We asked her to start walking daily to help with depression in addition to taking some antidepressants.  She did very well.  She surprised us all at how quickly she bounced back and began to reclaim her personal self.  One of her greatest achievements was when she was accepted into a highly exclusive certificate program that would guarantee her a well-paying job that would be perfect for supporting herself and her children.  However, this program required a fairly hefty enrollment fee up front.  The rest of the money would be taken out of her paychecks once she started working.

Sharon began to despair after all the progress she had made.  The lack of finances threatened her yet again.

We worked with her trying to locate funds every possible way.  A day before the deadline for her enrollment, she got a call from one of the agencies we had contacted.  They were willing to give her half of the money she needed.  In order to get the other half, Sharon sold a piece of jewelry that was very precious to her for a fraction of its worth.

The shelter staff decided we could supply the rest of the money.  We told her on the day of the deadline which was also one day before her birthday.  She cried and said she will forever remember this as the best birthday gift ever because it was the key that locked away the past and opened the door to her future.  Sharon is on her way to living a healthy life free of violence.  It just goes to show how quickly one can recover when they have a safe place and people who care.

I think true love that conquers all, and there is a lot of love in this agency.


Healing from Violence and Maintaining Custody

I am a woman from India who was married for over ten years to a man who used violence to control me.  I tolerated his abuse all those years in order to raise our son in a two-parent home, among other reasons.  Eventually, my husband wanted a divorce, and he did not want me to have any rights or access to our son.  He knew that in this country that was very unlikely.  I found out that he was planning to take our nine-year-old son back to India and put him in a boarding school so that I would have no access to him.  He had already worked out many of the details.

I did not know what to do, so I called the HDNBC 24-hour hotline. The counselor advised me to come into the shelter with my child.  I was not ready to make that move just yet, so she advised me to attend the support group.  I did so, and the counselor there encouraged me to leave quickly, and I eventually moved into the shelter.  My son kept up with his school work from the shelter so that his dad couldn’t pick him up from school.  I had no money to hire a lawyer, so I was represented by Legal Services of NW Texas.  Although my husband was able to delay the legal process, he had to turn over my son’s passport so that he would not be allowed to leave the country with our son.  

My son and I are now living on our own. He has visitation with his dad but feels confident that if his dad were to try to leave with him, he would know to contact the authorities.  He learned this through the counseling he received from the HDNBC Children’s Counselor.  Today we are happy and continue to attend the support group.

 

Note: Names have been changed for confidentiality.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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