- Posted by Sarah Swiston
- On December 15, 2023
- Chicago, chicago metropolitan area, Chicago suburbs, children services, children survivors dv, Domestic Violence, domestic violence agency, domestic violence organization, DV agency, dv survivors, End Domestic Violence, family services, Housing Programs, independence, inspiration, inspiring survivor, northwest chicago, Shelters, survivor, WINGS, WINGS Fundraiser, WINGS Program
Ximena* was recently awarded WINGS 2023 David K. Hill Award recognizing an inspiring survivor. Ximena’s Journey with WINGS is shared below in her own words.
“Sometimes in life, one phone call can completely change your life.
My name is Ximena and this is my story. It’s not how I expected my life to turn out, but I promise you, it has a happy ending.”
“I knew the person who later became my abuser for many years back in Costa Rica. We were friends.
Over time, our relationship grew, and he invited me to join him in Chicago, where he was now living. By this time, I was pregnant with his child.
Soon, as many abusers will do, he began pressuring me to decide. My support system of family and friends were all in Costa Rica, but my future (I believed) was with him. So, we married in Costa Rica and moved to Chicago.”
“After marriage, things went downhill quickly. He began to show his true colors. What started as verbal abuse turned physical.
Then one night, things went horribly wrong. To my horror, as I escaped from him, I found my children had heard everything. I took my children, and we locked ourselves in the bedroom that night.
That was the turning point for me.”
“The next day, I was determined to protect my children. As soon as my husband left for work, I googled the names of emergency shelters in the area. Many didn’t answer the phone, and the ones that did had no room for us.
At that point, I was frightened and desperate and running out of time, knowing he might be back at any time.
Not knowing where to turn, I called the social worker at my children’s school and told her what was going on. She said to come to the school immediately so we can talk about it.
She told me that our conversation will take several hours so I packed a full diaper bag, milk for my baby, and snacks for my kids.
I did not know I was packing for the journey of my life that day, those were the only items I had when I arrived at WINGS.”
“Once we arrived, the social worker helped me call the WINGS hotline. I didn’t know anything about WINGS. I was so afraid they would turn me away once they learned of my immigrant status.
But there was no time for fear. It was time to go. With the help of WINGS and my child’s school, I was taken to one of the WINGS emergency shelters. We were truly at the mercy of strangers.”
“I will never forget those first few days.
We had nothing – and yet thanks to WINGS, we had everything we needed.
Within a month, WINGS helped me move to a furnished apartment and find a job nearby. Within a year, I had my own place and even purchased a used car.”
“Life has not been easy for us, but I can’t imagine where we would be if WINGS had not been there.
Looking back on my experience, I learned several important lessons:
- First, I learned that even bad situations are opportunities.
- Second, I learned that once you break the cycle of violence, you can never go back. You can only go forward. You need to pick up the pieces of your life and use them to build a better version of yourself. And WINGS showed me how.
I arrived a broken person, but WINGS helped me to forgive myself, to find my own value, and to build on strengths I didn’t even know I had.”
I have an amazing job as a Customer Support Coordinator at a company that offers cancer screening.
And the most exciting new development is that I recently got my U.S. citizenship.
In closing, I just want to say that this happy ending to my story was no accident. It happened because people like you support the good work of WINGS. So, a huge thank you to all you for your generous support of WINGS.
Can you help?
If you are interested in making a difference in the lives of survivors, we hope you consider making a donation today here.
Click here to learn about all the ways you can get involved in our mission to end domestic violence.
Are you in need of domestic violence services? Help is available!
Domestic Violence 24-Hr Hotline: 847.221.5680
Trained crisis workers answer the Intake Line Monday-Friday, 9am-5pm. If you should call outside of these hours, please leave a message and a worker will return your call the next business day.
*WINGS uses representative names to protect the dignity and security of those we serve.