Diana approached the Northwest Arkansas Women’s Shelter after her husband was arrested. She had been married for several years and the abuse had been escalating from passive aggressive behavior to physical violence and threats of homicide. During this time she had lost her business and many friends due to the control and manipulation her abuser subjected upon her. Diana had to open a secret safety deposit box so she could keep important documents and family photos secure. She feared the worst when he was released from jail, and wanted to make sure that she would be safe.
Our advocates safety planned with Diana and also assisted her with filing an Order of Protection. She was able to secure her own housing without staying in shelter, but she still felt afraid and constantly worried that her abuser would find her and kill her like he always said. She wanted to purchase some home security devices, but after pricing the items she needed and realizing she could not afford them, Diana decided she would make some homemade booby traps and use those instead. Although she now had a way to be notified of an intruder, Diana still failed to feel safe at home and had a lot of trouble sleeping at night.
During this time Diana continued to come to our support groups and meet with our Support Services Advocate. She found it helpful to process what she had experienced with other survivors and began to feel like her life was coming back together. One day after support group, her advocate approached her about an opportunity. NWAWS had just received a donation of home security devices (window alarms, exterior motion lights, and home security signage) that clients could use to make their homes more secure and Diana was able to select several items that would work for her house.
Like Diana, many of our clients need support outside of our shelter. Last year, we were able to help 260 individuals on an outreach basis through our court advocacy program, support group, one-on-one meetings, job resources, or special events. Rebuilding one’s life after leaving an abusive partner or family member does not require a one-size fits all approach. Instead it requires a community of support and the ability to have needs—such as home security—met.
Through our support group and outreach programs, victims of domestic abuse are able to transition to becoming survivors by learning to find their own self and experiencing the freedom to become the person they have never been able to be. For the first time in a long time (or in some cases, ever), our clients begin to feel comfort and hope.
Our Support Services Advocate describes the transformation as simply “watching them grow.” She uses the illustration of a puzzle box: full with a thousand pieces, but so shaken and scattered that you do not know where to even begin putting it back together. Over time and with the support and guidance of others, these individuals begin to assemble their puzzle. By doing so, they begin rebuilding their lives.
A few weeks ago, Diana spoke to her advocate and shared that she can finally call her house, “home.” he was able to go and bring home her safety deposit box because today she feels safe. She feels complete.
Because of your support, we are able to help individuals like Diana create new lives without violence and fear. Peace of mind is something many of us take for granted but domestic violence survivors truly appreciate.