I just wanted to thank you for all you did for my daughter, Kristi, while she was there. Kristi was going through a very difficult time in her life, and had it n ot been for the Welcome house, I don’t know what she would have done, or what we would have done. You provided a safe and secure place for her to live until she could get back on her feet. I know that she still has a difficult road ahead of her, because she’s really starting all over. You gave her the chance she needed to be able to take a deep breath before taking the first steps toward starting over, and I’ll be eternally greatful. My prayers will be with you, all of the staff and volunteers, and the women and children who seek refuge at the house. I know that God will bless you all for the wonderful work you are doing. Thank you so very much!!
Meet Gabrielle: A Survivor of Domestic Violence
Gabrielle suffered verbal and physical abuse as a child, beginning when she was 5 yrs old. Her father was also a victim of terrible abuse.
She was accelerating into her young teens, with increasing physical and verbal abuse. Thrown down stairs, choked, hit in the face with no one to help her. When she went to police and family services for help, no one was willing to help her. The beatings continued and she began to drink alcohol, smoke marijuana, and often took prescription medications to numb the pain and escape. That in turn made matters worse and she was abused even more. She became active sexually in an attempt to have a man love her and accept her. After having enough of the abuse, she left home at 17, and lived in her car, with friends or anyone that would keep her for a night or two. In an attempt to change her life, she took the ASVAB test and passed with high scores, and joined the Navy at 20. She was granted a Top Secret clearance and headed to boot camp.
While in the Navy, she met her first husband, and he ended up being an abuser, attacking her through her pregnancy, raping her after giving birth. After his discharge, things got worse, he drank more and the violence accelerated. He poured Kerosene on her and tried to light her on fire when she tried to leave the house during an argument. He held her against a hot woodstove, burning her. He put a 12 gauge shot gun to her head and threatened to kill her if she left him. During one altercation, he attempted to hit her in the face with an ice skate while holding her down on the ground, so no one would ever want her. He punched her in the face while she held their infant son. While locked in a bathroom, he threatened with a knife to cut her in little pieces.
She lost one of her children in pregnancy at four months due to a beating. Phone calls to the police were not taken seriously. Although one officer in New Hampshire took her to a nearby women’s shelter in a very questionable area, he was apologetic for its condition and said he understands if she wanted to go home. It was run down and horrible. Crying, she had no options. She felt hopeless and helpless and returned to her abuser. One day he left for work and never returned.
A few years later she was in a relationship again. Though he was very kind and gentle, he cheated on her continuously. After 6 years of him coming and going, she made the decision not to allow him back home. The boy’s father hasn’t been seen or heard from since 1994. She hasn’t gotten any child support, no weekend breaks, not even a pair of shoes was purchased by their father. During this time she was able to mend her relationship with her parents, yet they didn’t help her.
Again on her own, now with three young boys, she worked to rebuild her life. As a single mother, she worked part time at a doctor’s office while attending Lanier Technical School for Medical Assisting and maintaining a 4.0 average in her classes.
The part time position became full time and she commuted 96 miles a day round trip. Although difficult, her self esteem and self worth began to improve. She was able to purchase a home, and continued to move forward.
In 1998, she decided to go into Real Estate. She secured a job at a real estate office, took online classes for licensure and the state exam. She has been a realtor since then and has been accomplished in the Million Dollar Club, the Executive Club and Presidents Club. She also works part time for a four doctor specialty physicians practice as their Marketing Liaison and has been working for them since 2006. She has four children, her three men and a little lady.
Once on her feet, she was in a position to give back. She was pleasantly surprised when she brought donations to the Community Welcome House. It looked and felt like ‘a home’. Each time she visited, a new project or improvement was underway. She was amazed at how needs and wants were being met so quickly through community involvement. She wanted to get more involved, and started coming one day a week to help wherever needed; take inventory of the rooms, speak with residents, help with resume’s or with the children, or write out thank you letters. No one knew she was a survivor, not even Linda. It took awhile before she shared her story of abuse.
In July 2007, Linda invited her to a dinner to “meet” some of the board members. She introduced Gabrielle as a survivor. No one had ever called her that. Linda helped her understand that she was a survivor. Gabrielle was nominated for a CWH board position. Gabrielle is now a CWH advisor and fundraising chair.
“It is by the grace of God that I lived through it. It is by the unfailing Love of God and my faith in HIM, that I was able to overcome, forgive and move forward with my life.
“Often those that are victims don’t want to come to a “shelter” due to condition, stigma or reputation. Community Welcome House is more than a “shelter”. It has a warm, home-like atmosphere. The feeling you get upon arriving is one of understanding, unconditional love and support. I wish there was a place like this to get help and rest when I needed it.”
§ It’s a place to come to know you will be safe.
§ It’s a place to make new friendships and develop life changing skills.
§ It’s a place to heal and to survive.
“My experience has allowed me to begin to understand the abuse I suffered was never my fault. I was a victim. The healing has begun by telling my story. I am a survivor. My children are survivors. I am successful and have a great personality. I am proud of who I am and who I’ve become. I’m a work in progress. Relationships are still hard, since it’s been a lifetime to get me to this point. But, I am ready to move on to the next step -in my journey of healing – in life – and work for the Community Welcome House.”
Thanks to Linda K, for her grace, her love and humor and her willingness to allow God to work through her in the giving of herself for the betterment of others.
A Safe Place for Hope
* Name changed.
He took Hope to an abandoned house, no running water. He took her clothes, her shoes. And then he sent in his dealers, every man he owed money. He retrieved her after three days of no food, no water. And he wanted sex. When she told him where to go, he beat her and refused to give her any food.
This wasn’t the first time he’d pimped and starved Hope. Why not say no? He threatened to break her arm. She believed him. He’s broken it twice before. And her jaw, her teeth, her feet and her ribs.
Why not just leave? She’d tried to leave him, gotten a restraining order. Of the 89 charges on his criminal record, 32 were for assaulting her. 19 happened after the restraining order. Because of his violence she lost custody of her children. “I couldn’t keep them safe,” said Hope.
Hope left and wandered for two days. Five days without food, Hope said, “I was so hungry. I could have hurt somebody for a burger. I had no one to call and nowhere to go.”
Then, he found her. He smashed her cell phone. Then he smashed her until an “angel” intervened. And called Community Welcome House.
30-year-old Hope arrived at Welcome House bruised and pregnant. She stayed in bed for three days. She stayed inside for two and a half weeks. It was month before she could sleep with the lights off.
Hope says, “I wouldn’t have stayed in that relationship as long as I had, if I had known this place existed. But I think it’s good that it’s secret, because I feel safe here.”
Welcome House got Hope medical care she needed. She said, “I’m safe and I’m healthy. The baby is healthy. They were concerned because I lost a lot of weight.”
Hope has a vision board on the wall of her Welcome House room. She’d like to work again in medicine, but needs to move away to protect herself and her unborn child. She said of Community Welcome House, “You don’t get comfortable in a place like this. This is a stepping-stone. This place provides hope. They give you good resources to rebuild your life. I’m really grateful to be here.”
She’s making plans to relocate, plans that don’t include trips to the E.R. “I have the right to live without fear. I know I can make it. It’s all because I got here,” said Hope.
“The Community Welcome House is the best thing that has ever happened to me. There is so much love and caring. When I arrived on a Monday, I was extremely depressed and did not know what was going to happen to me or where my life was heading. On Tuesday, I began my job search. I found employment and began on Wednesday. I began to save money. My goals are to purchase a car and start school next quarter. I plan on having my own home by June 1, 2005. Through love, counseling, Bible studies, church and a house mother who listens, I have learned how to handle situations in my life positively and my life has changed for the better. ”
“I arrived at the Welcome House due to domestic violence. I was homeless and had lost everything. I have three handsome young sons who deserve everything. Since arriving I have begun to think positive, and have added structure and stability to mine and my son’s lives. It makes you feel good to know someone cares. I thank God for this place. I have a job and my boys go to pre-k and daycare. ”
“I can honestly say my experience at the Welcome House has changed my life for the best. I came in as a very fragile and insecure person, and being around such caring people has helped my self-esteem. Coming here I was greeted by friendly faces and I immediately felt comfortable. I have a job. I love to feel needed and important. I know they truly care about me. I am truly blessed for being accepted and treated like the person I’ve always wanted to be.”
“My situation is different from the other residents. My husband and I had no place to live. I am expecting a baby in August. We had nothing. I came to the Welcome House. I receive the same care and support and that has made a difficult time easier for me and as a result for my baby. Stress was not good for either one of us. Just knowing that I can be in this wonderful place until I can get back on my feet makes it so much easier to get through each day. I thank God every day for the Welcome House. If it weren’t for this place I don’t know what would have happened to me or my unborn son.”
“You Saved My Life!” How powerful those words are. To accomplish great things, we must not only act, but also DREAM; not only plan, but also BELIEVE.