- Posted by Sarah Swiston
- On July 2, 2020
- Chicago suburbs, children survivors dv, Domestic Violence, domestic violence agency, domestic violence organization, DV agency, End Domestic Violence, non-profit
Samantha*, a domestic violence survivor, reflects on her journey to independence. She shares in her own words how WINGS supported her family to thrive without their abuser.
I Remember How Broken and Battered I Felt…
I remember how broken and battered I felt when I arrived at WINGS safe house with my children.
It was a dramatic night with heavy emotions. The kids were tired. I was in shock and scared. I was terrified, wondering if I made the right choice or not. Today it seems silly, remembering how I wouldn’t think of myself first in questions like that.
I trusted my counselor immensely and put all my faith in this leap, with the belief that I was heading on the next right path with WINGS.
Overcoming a Mountain of Doubt
So many changes happened quickly in our 3-month stay there, although some days felt like weeks. The children and I were on a healthier routine schedule-wise, meal-wise, and sleep-wise. Consistency was getting regulated despite each new hurdle we came across.
WINGS staff helped us turn the mountain of doubt and impossibilities into a track of possibility and opportunity. My huge baggage that kept me from leaving my situation was broken down into smaller more manageable loads.
With every accomplishment their resources and support helped me achieve, I gained more independence and confidence. I went from a depressed, anxious, insomniac who was too paralyzed to simply move, to an ambitious go-getter, doing anything and everything, constantly on the go.
I got the kids into daycare so that I could go to work. I applied for jobs to make money, which I had previously so heavily relied on our abuser for to survive. I was able to have a warm, safe place for the children and I to regroup after a long day.
I tried every little thing the staff and program provided to explore our options. It wasn’t even constant work, instead it was fun, it was relieving, it was inspiring. They had plenty of activities to keep our healing hearts and worried minds in an upward swing.
I met people who acted as the wind beneath my wings to keep me soaring high. It was a truly humbling experience.
Reaching the Top of the Mountain – Transitional Housing
After weeks of constantly setting, achieving and resetting goals, our stay at the safe house was coming to an end. It was time to move on to the next journey, Transitional Housing.
In the Safe House we had proven to ourselves that we can live a life without abuse and can combat struggle and surpass doubt to succeed. Now it was time to do it; live.
I had gone through several applications and interviews, some more exhausting than others. It was a roller coaster of emotions to hold all of this hope and fear and doubt all at the same time.
We maintained our new lifestyle during this process and finally one day we got the call. We had been accepted into the WINGS Transitional Housing program.
It was like reaching the top of the mountain that I never believed I could even climb. The idea of having a private home with support to continue to guide us to independence was a blessing.
Before WINGS, I remember scolding myself for even thinking of leaving because I thought I knew we could never get this far. I honestly did not even know what I was going to do or where I was going after the Safe House. It was a future I couldn’t see or create. To be blessed with this amount of support was overwhelming.
The amount of support was absolutely unbelievable, I did not know what to do or how to express my gratitude. It all seemed like way too much and too hard to believe.
My children and I moved into a beautiful home in a neighborhood close to everything we needed and in a wonderful school district. Being in a good school district was a huge deal for me as my oldest child was starting his first year in Kindergarten.
There was not a single thing we needed that wasn’t within reach. Even if I thought, “I had it”, WINGS had my back. We had access to resources for great programs, transportation, legal aid, food pantry, clothes pantry, and so much more. Every reason I thought I couldn’t leave my previous situation; a solution was at our doorstep with a shiny ribbon.
Moving into a new home was so thrilling. My children were so happy and excited to see our new environment.
Adjusting was a little difficult and I would still sometimes let my doubt scare me. But every little failure I encountered, I was already prepared to handle with support from WINGS. If I tripped or fell, I got right back up.
Anything is Possible
It has been about eight months now in Transitional Housing, and it single-handedly has opened the door to a lifestyle where the children and I are thriving.
The kids are all enrolled in school and programs designed to meet every need my children have. Their behavior, routine, growth, development, speech and happiness are always on the rise.
Since moving into transitional housing, I went from working three different jobs a week to my one dream job working for a major airline. The long application process alone seemed like a marathon I wouldn’t even dare to try; but here I am, building a career in the industry of my dreams.
It’s so amazing to me how far we have come, and yet still have so much opportunity before us. If for any reason I want or need to change my direction, school is just a phone call away. Other options are within reach. Perhaps, I’ll pursue my next goal, a degree in nursing.
It’s like anything is possible, which is a full 180 from believing I was trapped and couldn’t do anything about it.
WINGS is grateful to our community of supporters who empower us to assist families thrive without domestic abuse. Click here to learn how you can support our mission to stop the cycle of violence.
*WINGS uses representative names and photos to protect the dignity and security of those we serve.