Domestic Violence Awareness: Ursula's Story
One suitcase. One last chance. These were all that Ursula* had the day she and her daughter came to one of Safe Horizon’s domestic violence shelters. Domestic violence had taken away everything else from Ursula – her home, her job, and her hope.
It’s estimated that one in four women will experience domestic violence in her lifetime. Ursula had endured nine years of it, she told us, as she tried hard to keep her family together even though it seemed her partner was intent on tearing her life apart. Finally, the abuse was too much and Ursula decided to escape. A friend generously offered her and her daughter a place to stay. Yet as she was going to work a few days later, Ursula encountered her partner on the street. He was furious that she’d left him, and without warning he began to attack her right on the sidewalk. Ursula managed to flee his fists and to get back to her friend’s house.
Ursula was terrified. She no longer felt she could go to work, and so she lost her job. And, she didn’t feel safe staying with her friend anymore. The attack left her frightened. She needed to find another place where she and her daughter would be safe from her abuser, and she needed to find that place right away. That’s when she called Safe Horizon.
It’s because of our supporters that we can operate 24-hour hotlines with staff always ready to assist a victim who desperately needs help. Our staff was there when Ursula’s call came and helped her find a room at one of our shelters.
She had just one suitcase that held everything she and her daughter had left. They had no home and Ursula had no money. They hadn’t even eaten. With the food we receive through donations, we could provide emergency meals for them before we helped them get to their room. We were also able to give them clothes generously provided by our supporters. Once Ursula and her daughter settled in, it was time to take the next steps: Helping her move forward and to truly help her regain back the life that violence had taken away.
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It was difficult at first. Ursula’s self-esteem had been shattered after nine years of abuse. She told us she’d tried several times to leave her partner, but because of his work he often managed to find her and to subject her to more abuse. When Ursula talked about herself, she put herself down frequently, unable to believe that she deserved anything better.
With our support and with the encouragement of other residents – others who’d been through many of the same things Ursula had – Ursula began to understand that the abuse was not her fault. She began to understand that she could find her strength again, especially to take care of her child. Most importantly, Ursula began to hope.
We saw the changes in Ursula when she began joining all our group sessions, and then when she came to us one day to ask how she could go back to school to earn a degree so she’d be able to find a better job. We also helped Ursula in her search for an apartment where she and her daughter could live.
On the day that Ursula left our shelter, she also left behind a beautiful thank-you note along with her daughter’s picture. Ursula also left with great news: She was able to find another job, and she was starting school in just a few months.
Through Safe Horizon’s help, Ursula got back many things that domestic violence had taken from her. Most important, she got back a future for herself and her daughter filled with brighter possibilities. It’s thanks to people like you that Ursula and many others like her have their chance to transform their lives and the chance to regain the hope they need and deserve.