Heather's Story: Survival Against All Odds
One day, Heather’s ex-husband jumped into his car and decided to run her down. After hitting her, he realized he had not killed her -- so he tried to strangle her to death as she lay broken in the street.
We heard this incredible and shocking story when the district attorney’s office called our Court Programs, looking for our help. Heather was alive, thankfully because bystanders saw the incident and intervened. Heather was now in the hospital with a broken leg and a shattered hip, and she was in excruciating pain. The DA’s office did not want her to wait to get support, so they called to see if we would accompany them to visit Heather. We gladly said yes.
At the hospital, we learned more about Heather’s situation. She had divorced her husband, she said, but he continued to harass her. She never thought he would try to kill her. Time had not diminished his anger or his abusive behavior, and it had almost cost Heather her life.
Heather amazingly escaped becoming another tragic statistic, since one in three women who are murdered die at the hands of a current or former intimate partner. She was alive, and she would need as much support as possible in the aftermath of her ex-husband’s violence. The most important thing she would need immediately, however, was to remain safe.
With more than 30 years’ experience in helping victims of violence, especially those affected by domestic violence, we have the knowledge and skills to assess the safety of families who come to us facing crisis. We talked more with Heather and learned that she had her teenaged daughter and her elderly mother had been helping her while she was in the hospital. It was pretty clear that when she was released, she would need more support. We gave her our contact information and asked that she call us as soon as she was able to.
A month later, Heather had been released from the hospital and called us immediately. She had a full order of protection and her ex-husband had been arrested and charged with attempted murder, but she would need a lot more support in order to get her life back after violence.
She worried about how she would cover her mortgage, her utility bills, and other expenses. Although she received disability benefits through her job, the benefits would not be enough to pay her bills. We helped Heather apply for financial assistance available to victims of crime, and also contacted a partner who could assist with her mortgage payment. We also gave Heather information about other support that would help ease her worries about providing for her family during crisis.
Just as important as helping Heather financially, however, was helping her emotionally. Imagine how Heather felt knowing she had almost been killed by someone she thought she had escaped. The thought traumatized her, and she needed to talk to someone who could understand what she had gone through. Our staff was there to listen, and to provide her with the emotional support she truly needed.
As Heather recovers from her ordeal, we continue to give her both services and support so that she will be able to recover from violence and regain her life - and, find a brighter future afterward.
What if? Heather did not become another domestic violence tragedy thanks to people who stepped in to help. It is that same compassion that created Safe Horizon, and this is why we continue to be around today.
Your support is crucial to giving survivors of domestic violence and other crimes the tools they need to overcome crisis. Through your help, we can give women like Heather and their families the financial, material, and emotional support they deserve to overcome crisis.
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* Client names and identifying information have been changed to protect their privacy. Images used are representations of Safe Horizon’s clients.