Each day I receive calls from someone who is either requesting counseling, assistance with a restraining order or needing help with a safety plan. For more than two months, I have worked with a woman who has been married to her spouse for more than 20 years. As we continued to meet each week during her lunch hour, formulating her safety plan and ultimate escape from her abusive situation we stayed continually aware that each area needed to be gone over and over so there would hopefully be no room for error the day the final move would take place. Finally, the day had come and of course she was nervous and beginning to become ambivalent about leaving that he would find out and what would happen to her.
The morning the move was to happen I arrived at her place, just as her friends also arrived to help on her journey to freedom. While myself and five other women were assisting her in packing her belongings, an employee of Every 9 Seconds was at another location with her husband, at his office building and ensuring his constant whereabouts. As time was passing quickly we were becoming more and more acutely aware that we needed to finish up and get out so that she would be safe.
Just as we were leaving we received the phone call that her husband had left work and was now on his way home. We arrived at the safe house with our client and once again we were able to feel the overwhelming sense of accomplishment that she was now safe and no longer had to live in fear of being hurt and humiliated ever again. As we sat and spoke for the next hour we reassured her over and over that we would see this through with her to the end, that she mattered, that her safety and willingness to leave her abusive situation was a priority for us.
This work is not for someone who is faint at heart, nor for someone who wants to be rich, but it is for those who choose to be rich in spirit and have the ability to see the fruit of their labors. This is life changing work, just as I need air to breathe and water to survive we need to be there for those who still don’t realize they have a voice, they matter, they deserve more.
Although my journey to prison and ultimately gaining my freedom in 2008 was something I would give anything to change in a heartbeat, I am at the same time grateful for my journey. Without it, I would not be who I am today. I would not be able to make that difference in breaking the silence and cycle of abuse.
To all of those who are still feeling trapped and helpless, know that you deserve better, that all you have to do is reach out, that you have a voice, tell someone you feel safe with and believe in yourself and your ability to make it through. I just want to dedicate this to the amazing woman who had the strength to call.