Survivor Stories

Read Brenda's Story

BRENDA

How did I get here?  That was my first thought as I sat in the interview room of my local police station with my two children age 11 and 3, while police questioned them separately about the events on that April evening.  My husband was not normally a violent man, yet I came to realize quickly that he was an abuser.  His abuse of alcohol and his constant verbal abuse were often more than I could take.  But I hung in there.  My religious convictions and sanctity of the vows I had taken made me stay.  The most compelling reason for not getting out sooner was the concept that I could change him.

But every day, I held my head high and nobody could really tell the hopeless and desperate place I was in.

Despite everything, I never thought he would lay his hands on me.  I mean sure, he threw things often–like remote controls, telephones, and golf clubs.  But, I’m a pretty big girl and was always used to taking care of myself.  On that night, however, alcohol had so clouded his mind that he spun out of control and began to choke me in front of our daughters.  The reason?  Whether there was anything to eat for dinner that night.

After that night, my life began to change.  Who could I reach out to that wouldn’t judge me?  That knows about this stuff?  That would connect me with the many resources I would need to get out of this situation?  I had heard about the good work at Safe Futures (then the Women’s Center).  Not even sure where.  I made my way to their offices on Jay Street and was immediately assisted.  I found understanding, compassion, confidentiality, and services.  My first connection was with a counselor, Susan, who listened and helped me work through all my questions.

Thanks to Safe Futures, my friends, family, and church, I was able to reconstruct my life and become a stronger, more compassionate, understanding person.  Soon I was able to open myself up to love again and met a wonderful, kind and supportive man who may have his own story to tell.  (Yes, abuse happens to men too.)  We have been happily together for almost 6 years.

What seemed so hopeless became so hopeful.  Thank you, Safe Futures!

Read Gina's Story

GINA

I remember the fighting, the pushing, the yelling, the pleas, the sound of walls being crashed into, the sound of skin-on-skin contact. Then, asking for forgiveness. Next, the sound of angry footsteps coming down the hall to my bedroom. Feeling the hot breath and spit against my face while I lay there, fighting back tears of fear and confusion.

As I grew older and our family grew larger, so did the issues at hand. The abuse was more frequent, more violent. With my mom’s new marriage and the birth of my sister, escaping these horrid acts became more complicated. There was packing and unpacking – but we always returned to the same place, the same situation.

Until, one night, my mother had had enough. I was babysitting when she called. She wanted to know what I wanted to pack. We headed to Genesis House. We’d never been to a shelter before – and I had never felt so safe and confident that our future might be different. Maybe we wouldn’t go back this time. Maybe this was a new beginning.

It was summer, I was going to be a Senior in the fall and it was hard, very hard – not being able to see my friends, not being able to tell anyone where I was.

But everyone at Genesis House banded together – staff, women and children, to help one another through the toughest time in their lives. That kept my mother focused and committed to protecting herself and her children.

Luckily, we were able to move into an apartment at Phoenix House. Things became more settled, more normal… We had our own space, just the 3 of us – and it felt nice. We were once again able to enjoy things like going to the beach and having a safe place to come home to.

My mother attended support groups, took advantage of the legal counseling that was offered, and received her Associates degree through the education program. I received special permission to continue to attend my high school so that I could graduate with my class. It was amazing how people worked so hard to create normalcy for us: trick-or-treating with the other children living in the Phoenix House; enjoying a delicious Thanksgiving meal because of the generosity of others; receiving gifts from complete strangers on Christmas morning…

I am a survivor. I appreciate the experiences that made me who I am today – a resilient, grateful 30-something who will never have the words to fully express my deepest gratitude to everyone who played a tremendously important role in saving my family and helping us break the cycle of violence.

Thank you for giving us a Safe Future.

Read Rebecca's Story

REBECCA

My name is Rebecca and I am a survivor.

There were many days I was depressed, broken, hopeless and feeling as though I was in this never ending pit of despair. The constant horrible feelings of anticipation and anxiety of when my abuser would strike again.

The night in question came. I was sleeping with my four children, two sets of twins, 3 and 2 years old at the time. My abuser came into the room, waking me abruptly – grabbing my nightshirt (my mom gave that to me), ripping it all the way down. He punched me like never before, my arms, my chest. I looked over and saw one of my oldest daughters watching. He started to strangle me. My daughter said, in panic and fear, “Daddy, stop it.” But he didn’t. I looked into her eyes again, and I thought, ‘I will not die like this.’ I called out to God. And… he let go.

As I recovered, I remembered the Women’s Center* advocate who had been to my house a couple times previously with the Norwich police – her voice had stayed in my mind.

I called my mom and we went to the Norwich Police Department. Then, I called Kathie at the Women’s Center.* I explained what happened.

I arrived at Genesis House the next day, transported by a taxi, paid for by the Women’s Center.* I was absorbing so much but became relaxed once I was there. I happened to look up and to my delight, I saw Antoinette. I remember the last time I had been to Genesis House — she was such an empowering comfort to me. I was there with my four babies, in need, frustrated, hurt and confused. I asked her why I felt guilty for leaving him and I found comfort in her explanation. Especially, at that time, I was so cautious to speak with anyone. But I could talk to Antoinette.

I still attend the Women’s Center’s* self-esteem support groups on Tuesdays. There I find support and empowerment. I get inspired by things Ms. Annie shares with us. Now, I’m studying to become a victim advocate myself, so that I can help others.

By supporting the Women’s Center*– directly, or indirectly – you all have saved my life, my children’s lives – because I have applied the knowledge, wisdom and understanding that I found through the Women’s Center* to my life.

I would like to say thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for the resources that the Women’s Center* has been able to provide – due to hearts of the people in our community, to keep it going. You make a difference, a big difference. Thank you.

*now Safe Futures

Read Priscilla's Story

PRISCILLA

It was the first Sunday of November. My husband was very intoxicated. He punched me in my face and we fought. My daughter, Susie, was asleep. We fought. He cut my hair off and he stuffed it in my mouth. He was kicking me. And he lit the right side of my body on fire.

When I woke up, I was incubated so I was very confused. The nurse gives me a pen. I write down, “What’s today? Where is my daughter?” She says, “It’s Thanksgiving.” She told me not to worry about anything, that Susie was okay.

When I got out of the intensive care unit, the police gave me the contact information to [the domestic violence hotline]. I made a hotline call and they told me there was a place called Genesis House. I was on the next train.

[The staff of the Women's Center*] were there for me. They met me at the cab, helped me with my bags. They were so welcoming. All the staff members were so great, so wonderful. They showed me there was a chance and I could be strong.

I [received] case management. They showed me knowledge as far as where to go for help with my daughter. Cash assistance, food stamps, things that I needed to get by.

My daughter says, “Mommy, you’re happy now.” She says that to me. She doesn’t talk about how I was sad; she talks about how I am happy now.

I lost my life and everything in it. And the Women’s Center* gave me hope. It really did because it made me feel like I wasn’t alone. It made me feel like I had a whole team of women behind me.

I honestly feel that I wouldn’t have been able to survive this tragedy. What I mean by that is I wouldn’t have been able to cope with it. Yeah, I survived it physically. But I wouldn’t have been able to cope with it, accept it, deal with it. I wouldn’t have been able to, not by myself.

All I have to say is thank you [Women's Center*]. That’s all I have to say. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

*now Safe Futures

Read Justeena's Story

JUSTEENA

One time in my life I was having a hard time. And from nowhere, I heard from the Women’s Center,* from the Court. They come to me and they let me know that I am not alone. They call me and they give me a hand when they are most needed.

I had all kinds of support: not only physical, mentally, economic. They [arranged for] a lot of work on my house. I thank them because my kids and me have a Christmas. I thank them because when it was the worst time of my life, they were right there next to me, talking to me and letting me know, that it’s okay.

The result is that my husband is not let back in the house. He’s not allowed to come back to the house and he was a danger to me and to the kids. Everything I have done since then… I’ve got to thank them because it made me strong, it made me feel that I am not alone.

I would like to say thank you to the Women’s Center* first. Thank you for all those people helping me and donating. And give a little hug from me and my kids. I do appreciate it a lot. And I want to let people know there is help. There are good people out there helping other people. Women are not alone. I know I am not alone.

Thank you again.

*now Safe Futures

Read Phoebe's Story

PHOEBE

When I fled, after three years of his constant control, I left everything behind – my clothes, money, my car, my well-being.  I didn’t know how I would survive, or IF I would survive. Life didn’t seem worth living.  I had no hope. I prayed for something to save me; I prayed for a way that would help me heal. When I ended up in the hospital, my doctors realized that I had been abused and they referred me to the Women’s Center* and Genesis House.

Genesis House is so much more than a shelter. It has provided me with everything I needed to start a new life. The staff listens and gives you the resources to move forward. We’re family at Genesis House, all of us growing and healing together. Now my life is moving forward!  The staff helped me to transfer my CNA license and I am working again. I’ve been able to buy a new car and now I’m saving to be able to move into my own apartment.

The people at the Women’s Center* work miracles.  They gave me my life back!

*now Safe Futures