Today we’re featuring a story of a survivor who had stayed at Monika’s House Shelter and later sent us a letter sharing her experience and thoughts.
“By the time you read, this I will be gone. Now, now. Don’t get ahead of yourself. I’ve just moved on. I am a survivor of domestic violence.
I came to this place called a safe house. My first few days were very confusing. I was scared, angry and had a lot of emotions I couldn’t identify. It was really hard for me because as a mental health associate I had always been the one to help people in powerless situations, and now I was in one myself. I thought I was in a place where the people working there would make all my pain go away and make things great again. What I didn’t realize was that things weren’t that great and it was up to me to make things right.
I started observing staff. It was getting difficult because I wanted to get everything done right away. I wanted things fixed now. Staff came to me and let me know that I didn’t have to make that change over night. They were very supportive and I was now at the point where I could listen. As many of us do in the domestic violence world, we leave everything behind and we feel we have nothing.
As the days went by I began to listen to those around me, though I was still distrustful. I needed so many things, I didn’t know where to begin. I had lost my belongings, all the beautiful clothing that meant so much to me, and I was still scared. Staff never asked me what I needed, but they did ask me if I was okay, which I now realize was more important than all the things I had lost.
Gradually I began to speak to staff. I realized I was beginning to trust again and most of all, I felt safe. This was no longer a safe house, but a wonderful home. Eventually I started making plans with the help and the support of staff. And oh yeah, let’s not forget, thanks to staff I have now replaced some of the things I have lost: my laughter, my faith, and my dignity. I was becoming whole again. It was slow, but it was happening. I was no longer observing staff, staff were observing me.
There were times when it was pretty rough, but on the days I wasn’t out looking for work I kept myself busy by changing things like the shower curtains and rearranging things in the laundry room around, as though it were my own home. Staff encouraged me to do so because they wanted me to feel at home.
And then it happened. That very special day. Staff came to me and asked me what I needed. I needed a haircut, eyeglasses, clothing, and tickets for the bus just to mention a few. Staff knew I had made it a point where I had empowered myself and was ready to take the next step. They got on the phone and made it happen. It was amazing to watch. At that moment, they made it all about me. I knew I would always make it, but without the support of the staff of this wonderful place it would have taken me longer.
By all means, nothing is perfect, nor should it be, but things are starting to change for the better. As I close this chapter of my life, I write this for those that think that things won’t get better. They do and I am living proof of it. For now, I will remain anonymous and someday, if you get lucky, we may meet. I leave this wonderful place with a gift: I’ve added domestic violence to my list of advocacies. And, oh yeah before I forget: this wonderful place I speak of is Monika’s House.”
Thank you for reading. To find out more about how you can make a difference in the lives of domestic violence survivors, please click here. Thank you for your support!