We all have days where our worries and problems seem insurmountable. The ones where it seems impossible to make it out of bed. But somehow, we find a way to take those first steps and make it happen.
But for Katherine, it was more difficult than we could ever imagine. Those sort of days take a special kind of bravery for those who are homeless after they escaped domestic violence.
The control and violence of domestic abuse escalates over time. Slowly but surely the offender robs their victim of their self-worth. Looking back, the signs and symptoms of the abuse are clear to see. The victims say, “If only I had known sooner, things might be different.”
Many of the residents at UMOM have suffered some form of intimidation or abuse at the hands of someone they loved. But the families in our Domestic Violence program have been through the worst imaginable situations. Despite the odds they found the courage to make a choice, a choice for their children to confront the uncertainty and escape the danger.
This March marks 10 years since we first opened our doors to abused women and men. Read Katherine’s story to see how she and her kids were brave in the face of danger, uncertainty and pain.
Katherine opened her eyes each morning fearing the day to come.
After years of abuse, her dreams of a happy family, a career in nursing, were destroyed. She fled with two young children, Samantha and Michael—ages 8 and 10—who still desperately needed her. She woke up uncertain of what each day would hold. What more, Michael was on the autism spectrum, and struggled to do day-to-day what we don’t even think about. The special attention Michael needed to thrive was impossible to get while living on the streets. Katherine and her family were homeless for three years, stuck between the past and the future, fear and hope.
Bravely, Katherine entered the Domestic Violence program at UMOM. The safety and security the program offered were a weight off her shoulders. The family was finally in a nurturing place where they could start to heal and begin again. But that was easier said than done.
Katherine now had to find work for herself and schools for her children. But Michael’s disability made the search even more difficult. Katherine was stretched thin between her diligent job hunt, completing nursing school applications and taking Michael to various specialist appointments. With no car, she walked and took the bus everywhere. She began to wonder if she could ever make a better life for her family. Maybe a brighter future wasn’t for her.
But so often it’s only after we reach our lowest, when we expect it least, that life looks back up. The pieces began to fall into place. Michael got into a school where he could get the attention and care he needed. Katherine found a car and was no longer bound to long walks or unreliable bus schedules. A letter with good—no, THE BEST—news finally arrived. She opened it with shivering hands. Katherine was officially a nursing student. Her new school helped her find a job soon after.
And last December, she took one more step. Katherine will never forget the day she got the keys to her new apartment. Rubbing the cold metal keys between her fingers, she couldn’t help but break down. After years of running from abuse, years of uncertainty for her family, years of pain, now she had a home. All her own.
No longer settling to think about what might have been, Katherine and her family can look forward to what will be.
When Katherine woke up the next morning, the first morning in her new home, she looked forward to the new day.