It was wonderfully awkward walking into her office to fill out the paperwork. This beautiful, confident young lady knew I was coming so she greeted me warmly while maintaining all the professionalism we expect from someone in her position. As she took my information, I marveled at how far she’s come since that terrible night last winter when she and her children, with the help of law enforcement, finally fled their abuser.
“How is your new apartment?” I ask. Her face lit up like a child’s at Christmas. “It’s great,” she said. “We love it!” For the next few moments, we chatted happily about how well her children have adjusted and how busy their lives are these days. Her daughter, Rachael*, who was also a victim, has made incredible strides through counseling and is doing great. And her adorable toddler is a joy to them both. I told her how much it meant to me and to all of us at Mission Granbury and the Ada Carey Shelter to see her doing so well. Her eyes got misty. “You know, one day last week, Rachael told me how proud she was of me. Then she said, ‘aren’t you proud of yourself, Mom? You should be!’” We sat silently for a few seconds, absorbing the weight of Rachael’s statement. She broke the silence. “It made me think,” she said. “She saw everything, including the struggle to break away and even at her age, she knew how hard it was. And she’s proud of me. That meant so much. So, yes, I am proud of myself.” We chatted a little more and promised to get together soon for lunch.
As I left the building, I realized this is the kind of Survivor story every victim needs to hear. This young mother ran the gauntlet and made it to the other side, not entirely unscathed but still strong and undefeated. She met every challenge with a “bring it on!” attitude and won. There will always be memories but they will remind her how far she’s come – and how proud she should be of herself.
If only all the stories could have this kind of ending – but they don’t. We hear from victims everyday who want to leave but can’t. They have no transportation, no money, no job, no skills and no confidence. They’re afraid for their lives and those of their loved ones. They’ve seen their pets killed, been threatened with the unimaginable and endured constant humiliation.
Did you know that 1 out of 3 teens have experienced teen dating violence? That means if you have or know three teenagers, chances are good that at least one has experienced teen dating violence. If they haven’t, chances are even better they know someone who has.
Last year, 72,782 people in Texas sought help through a domestic violence program and the latest data shows 158 women died at the hands of their abuser. Over 182,000 calls were made to domestic violence hotlines in Texas. Our shelter has a live person answering a hotline phone 24 hour a day, 7 days a week and very seldom will you not find that hotline advocate on the phone.
October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Please join Mission Granbury and the Ada Carey Shelter on Tuesday, October 25th at City Beach for our third annual LIGHT THE NIGHT event, celebrating the Survivors of domestic violence and honoring and paying tribute to the Texas women who lost their lives to domestic violence in 2016. We need more little girls like Rachael who can see what a successful Survivor looks like.