Survivor Stories

My journey began when I found the courage to leave my husband and come with my daughter to the Betty Griffin Center.

When we arrived, we were facing bigger barriers than most survivors: we spoke and understood very little English, and my daughter was deaf and had no way to communicate with others.

We came to this country as refugees, and I was seeking a better life and education for my daughter.  I had never been employed, never had a bank account and lived away from my family. I was afraid that I may not be able to make it on my own and take care of my child.

Soon after we arrived at the shelter, I began to feel safe, supported and hopeful. I enrolled my daughter in school, found employment and began taking English and sign-language classes. I obtained my first bank account and learned how to use the public transit system.

My daughter made great strides. She enjoyed going to school and quickly began to learn sign language, which allowed her to communicate with others for the first time in her life.

We were accepted into your transitional housing program.  Afterward, I got my first driver’s license and purchased my first car. The program provided me with the support and stability I needed to pursue my dreams, and the time I needed to develop a sense of self-reliance and safety. With your help, we saved the money to move in to our first apartment.

My journey is ongoing. My dream now is to own my own home and see my daughter go to college.

I’m truly amazed at how far we have come, and how we were able to overcome all the barriers facing us thanks to Betty Griffin Center.

Talia

 

I’m 23 years old. Ten years ago, my mother contacted Betty Griffin Center needing help to escape a very abusive husband.With your help, she succeeded in removing my family from the situation that was slowly killing us.

My reason for writing is to simply say thank you so very much. Please know that you made the difference between life and death…of the actual person and soul. Looking back now, not only did you help my family leave a very bad place, but you also brought us out of the inside darkness that we were buried in.

Above and beyond helping us escape the abusive situation, your organization also chose our family to be sponsored during Christmas. As a child, you see Christmas as things, toys and presents. As children, that is how we appreciated the gift of being sponsored. As an adult, I see the other tremendous gifts given to us that holiday. You gave three children a sense that their lives would indeed continue, and that there were people that cared for them.

I cannot speak for her, but I know you gave a mother so much more than a Christmas. You gave my family hope…and I will forever be thankful for that. One day, I hope to reach out to a family in need…and give back to others what has been given to me.

Today, my mother, two brothers and myself have risen above the indifferences that we were faced with and are thriving in the freedom in which we live our lives on OUR OWN. We speak our minds, have our own opinions and are free from the crippling fear that living with abuse casts upon you. Thank you so much!

Jill

 

March 3, 2017 marked my 16th year as a ‘survivor,’ a very powerful term as many victims of domestic violence never reach this goal.

I met my abuser when I was 18 – I was young, naive and thought I was in love. That love quickly turned to physical and emotional abuse. Like so many other victims I became ashamed and believed his words that stated it was all my fault.

I suffered many physical attacks – bruises, bloody lips and so on but he soon found how he could inflict pain without leaving marks visible to others – usually resulting in blows to the head and torso. The emotional abuse I found leaves much deeper scars that are much harder to heal.

As a result of my situation I lost countless friends, job opportunities and the worst – became estranged from my family.

Finally, after 22 years of suffering for the most part in silence, a friend helped me get to a shelter – which began my journey to reclaiming my life and finding freedom.

The shelter advocates at the Betty Griffin Center taught me many things about myself: I realized that all victims have some ‘vice’ – mine was catalog shopping. I also realized that my wardrobe consisted of only dark colors – black, blue, browns – all done subconsciously to try to divert any attention to me in hopes no problems would arise behind closed doors.

I tried everything to ‘fix’ the problem – counseling, marriage, having a child, buying a house…but never actually seeing the REAL problem.

Domestic violence victims not only suffer from physical and emotional pain, but there is also shame involved. I am sure you have all heard someone say, ‘If he hurts her, why does she stay with him.’ Those are very powerful words.

With the help of the shelter and court advocates encouraging me to write my story, I was awarded with a permanent restraining order – even with this I ultimately had leave my 15-year job, move from the town I grew to love and move on – because he would not.

I am happy to say that with the help of the advocates, I was able to see the type of person NOT to be involved with (so as not to repeat the cycle) and have been happily married to a wonderful man for over five years.

Since becoming involved with Betty Griffin Center, I have had the opportunity to share my story in hopes to help others who may be in crisis find their strength – and know that they are not alone, and that help is available.

Many people don’t want to believe that domestic violence is a community problem, but it is.

Marie

 

When a longtime friend realized what I had been experiencing in my relationship and why I had left my marital home, she contacted the Betty Griffin Center to find out how she could help me.

She gave me the number and a listing of services that they offered. I wasn’t sure what I needed as I wasn’t sure what I was going to do at that point in time, so I made an initial appointment. That meeting was life changing.

I honestly had not realized or acknowledged I was in an abusive relationship; the only way I can describe it is that you shut down emotionally to a certain extent to make it all work and the abuser uses manipulation and blame to shift responsibility away from his actions. That initial meeting and the subsequent counseling I received was an awakening as I talked openly for the first time about the physical violence I had experienced in my home and numerous ways my now ex-husband exerted control over me and systematically chipped away at my feelings of self-worth.

It has been a long road to extract myself from a 22-year marriage which was not what it seemed to people on the outside. I still have plenty of healing to do but I am so grateful to be on my own, making my own decisions and living life on my own terms. I will always be grateful for the counseling, information and support I received from the Betty Griffin Center.

I think I would still be withering away in my unhealthy marriage if it weren’t for that phone call my friend made and the initial meeting I had when I finally realized what I had been enduring for far too long.

Anonymous

I was wearing black cotton scrubs that were issued to me by the hospital where I worked when I was sexually assaulted.

I was a respiratory therapist supervisor for a very large hospital.  The doctor that I worked for had raped me several times over a period of six months.  It started out gradually with a pat on my shoulder, then hugs and words of encouragement, then to mandatory meetings and lunches in his office behind closed doors, to rubbing me, kissing me, and then one day he started locking his door, covering the camera on his phone and computer, and raped me.

I never consented to him touching me, ever!

I always told him no, but the doctor preyed on my vulnerability and my young age.  He threatened me that if I wanted to keep my job at the hospital or any hospital for that matter, that I will keep my mouth shut and take it.  He also told me that if I ever told anyone, he would make sure that I would lose my family too, and that he had the power to make my life miserable.  I truly believed him.

After six months of his abuse, I broke down and told my husband.

I reported the doctor to human resources, where nothing happened to him, so I left my job.

It wasn’t about what I was wearing, it was about him having power and control over me.

Anonymous

Note: Testimonials were written by victims of sexual and domestic abuse, but some of the photos are representative of the actual person.