Children’s Home Shelter for Family Safety Campaign
What happens when a dad tells his daughter, “You’re dumb and stupid. You’re not worth anything. You’re never going to be anything?”
What happens when her childhood is shaped by addiction and abuse?
Here’s what can happen. The little girl believes her dad. She grows up feeling worthless and gets involved with abusive men because to her, that’s normal. She has issues with stability, homelessness and poverty. And when she’s in her 60s, she finds herself living in terror with her boyfriend, who has become a violent and unpredictable meth addict.
“I was scared to death of him,” says Sharon. “I kept fearing every time I'd go to bed—is he going to come in and stab me? Is he going to shoot me? Is he going to rape and kill me? I couldn't sleep. I couldn't eat. I was always on edge wondering what today is going to bring me. For seven months I lived like that.”
After an assault so brutal that neighbors contacted police, Sharon was brought to Children’s Home Shelter for Family Safety (formerly Children’s Inn).
Staff welcomed her with open arms. “Oh, they made me feel special. They're so compassionate and understanding and patient. They're really good,” Sharon says.
At first Sharon was afraid that her abuser might find her. Staff assured her that she was safe at Children’s Home Shelter for Family Safety.
An ending and a new beginning
After helping Sharon heal from her injuries and obtain a protection order, staff focused on helping her find safe, affordable housing. Case managers helped her get out of her lease and secure an apartment that met her needs.
They also helped Sharon get to doctors’ appointments and accompanied her to court hearings.
The next challenge was moving. Sharon had no vehicle and no family or friends to help. Again, Children’s Home Shelter for Family Safety case managers stepped up, finding a local moving company that would move Sharon’s furniture and belongings at no cost.
When Sharon learned that her abuser had left the state, she was finally able to relax. Despite injuries, chronic health issues, the trauma of being abused, and lack of financial resources, she kept her spirits up. And she knows she can still turn to Children’s Home Shelter for Family Safety for help.
“The staff at Children’s Home Shelter for Family Safety is just awesome,” she says. “It takes a good heart and patience and commitment to deal with people that are emotionally, physically and mentally going through this. They made me feel loved.”
Sharon encourages other victims of domestic violence to seek help. “Talk to a sister, a brother, an aunt, an uncle, a social worker, a teacher, a pastor—somebody that will listen and try to guide you the right way, to find the help to get out of that situation, because no one needs to be abused, psychologically or physically.”
“We have to tell each other, ‘You're worth it. Don't let anyone ever tell you you're not worth it, because you are. You're special.’ Each and every one of God's children is special.”
Law enforcement brought Rayann, a teenager, to Children’s Home Shelter for Family Safety after she was removed from her home.
Rayann’s mother was addicted to meth for several years and had been trafficking her daughter for sex to support her drug habit.
Children’s Home Shelter for Family Safety was able to provide Rayann with love and support as she started to sort through her trauma. She was moved to a long-term foster home by Child Protection Services, where she was able to remain in the same school.
Sally had everything—a house with a four-stall garage, nice things, four beautiful children…and an abusive husband. She was a bright, resourceful woman and she learned quickly.
Sally learned to apply make-up so the bruises wouldn’t show when she attended functions with her husband or PTA meetings at her children’s schools. She learned to make believable excuses to save her husband’s job when he was on a rampage and missed important events. And she learned how to convince herself what a lucky woman she was. After all, her stepfather had been far worse.
Then Sally discovered that her husband had molested one of their daughters. She was devastated. Although she was being abused by her husband, she thought she had protected her children. So she packed up the kids and a few belongings, and rang the bell at Children’s Home Shelter for Family Safety—tired and afraid, but determined.
Sally had no idea how she and her children would make it alone in the world. She worked with Children’s Home Shelter for Family Safety case managers to find job options and housing resources, attended counseling sessions to begin to heal from a lifetime of abuse, met with a parenting coordinator to find ways to help her children cope with the trauma they were experiencing and participated in a support group to work toward self-forgiveness.
Once again, Sally was a quick learner. Even though the home where she and her children live is not luxurious, it is safe and happy. She is attending cosmetology school to learn to use her skill with make-up as a way to provide for her family. Sally still believes she is a lucky woman. But now it is because she has come from a very dark place into the light, and she doesn’t have to pretend anymore.
We cared for a young boy, Jonah, age nine. His mom had died in the year prior due to cancer and he had watched her fade. His dad had since remarried, but severely assaulted his new wife, which the boy was a witness to. The dad was sent to prison and the wife moved out of state —leaving Jonah with no one to take care of him.
Jonah came to us with a few meager, but precious possessions. They were all he had in the entire world. Among his belongings was his mother’s driver’s license, which he slept with under his pillow.
Mary returned to Children’s Home Shelter for Family Safety time and time again. She typically stayed only briefly and then would be gone. Throughout the years we served her, she battled her own addictions in addition to the extreme physical abuse by her perpetrator.
She came to Children’s Home Shelter for Family Safety one day with razor cuts all over her arms. On one of Mary’s arms, the name of her abuser was cut into her skin (by her abuser) so “everyone knew who [she] belonged to.” We helped bandage her arms and change her wrappings daily. Another time, she came in after her abuser attempted to set her on fire; she sustained burns from her ankles to her knees.
This story highlights the cycle of domestic violence. Children’s Home Shelter for Family Safety is here for our clients—even if they come back week after week or month after month— we will give them a safe place to stay. And whenever we have the opportunity, we will plant seeds…educating her, lifting her up, empowering her to break free.