October 05, 2016
BENEFITING: Womens Shelter Of Central Arkansas Inc
Carrie Curtis wrote -
The Women's Shelter of Central Arkansas provides free emergency shelter, food, and clothing to victims of domestic violence and/or sexual assault. We provide a 24-hour crisis phone line and services to clients. We also offer court advocacy, Spanish bilingual services, children’s advocacy and programming, community education, support groups, and a volunteer program.
Domestic violence does not discriminate; it reaches across all demographics in terms of age, gender, race, socioeconomic status, and educational background. We assist any person who meets the criteria for emergency intervention and assistance due to domestic violence or sexual assault.
Here are some words from some of our survivors:
My name is Berenice, and I am a survivor of domestic violence. I was a victim of both mental and physical abuse, and as I said, I am a survivor. I sincerely hope what I have to say will be beneficial to you and maybe even save your life.
My last relationship changed my life forever. I deeply loved someone only to find that he was incapable of loving me in return. I so wanted him to be the last man I would ever love. As a result, I endured so much cruelty, more than any human should ever. He alienated me from my family and friends. He controlled every aspect of my life. I had nowhere to go and no money. I worked—or, should I say, was his free labor—in his business. No money, no job, no phone, no car, and no love. I desperately wanted it to get better, but he was such a controlling person. His ego could not let me leave because then he would be alone.
It went from bad to worse, the beatings became every day, followed by making up, and that only while he was drinking because that’s the only time he was happy. I stayed with this man because I had a lifetime of failed relationships and poor life choices. One wrong turn after another, things finally started spinning more out of control than ever. It was like he was being evil to me every day, belittling me and spitting in my face. Telling me how ugly I was and that no one would ever want me; I had to get my (GUT) full. He told me he was going to kill me, and I knew he meant it.
He planned for my family to never see me again. I cried out to God, and He heard me. That night I left—I just walked away with no car and no money, and only the clothes on my back. I went to my neighbor’s house, and she arranged for me to talk to the women-in-crisis hotline here in Conway. I was very scared and alone, but it was better than being dead.
The ladies at the battered women’s shelter were very kind to me and made me feel safe. They treated me like I mattered as a person. It was so long since I was allowed to have normal relationships I really didn’t know how to act with freedom to speak or do what I wanted. Then it hit me how badly I had been treated and the person I had become.
When I finally had some time away from him, I slowly came out of my shell. The shelter helped me find my self-worth and gave me time to get my life back. I remember being so happy and feeling so free and alive. I found a job nine days later; I walked to work every day, and I saved just about every penny. I saved money at the shelter for a car and to move into an apartment. The shelter gave me new clothes and everything that I needed for a fresh start. While I was there, I enjoyed support groups and counseling to help me to start a new season in my life. It’s been almost eight months now; I have two jobs and am attending college. I plan to help women in crisis to realize they have a choice and don’t have to stay in an unhealthy environment. Tomorrow is not promised.
Even if I am alone the rest of my life I am happy, at peace and content with which I am and what I have. I grew closer to God joined a church, and never have looked back. I put God first in my life, and I have all that I need and nothing or (NO ONE) that I don’t. I am able to make solid decisions and healthy choices about my life freely, and also I have truly forgiven the man who abused me. I know he is sick, and through forgiveness, I have found healing and true peace within. I am 52 years old and my life is worth living. I am forever grateful for the Women’s Shelter of Central Arkansas in Faulkner County.
My name is Marie and this is my story. I was living in Chicago during the winter time with the father of my twins when I began to feel threatened. I began to feel scared for my life and what might happen.
One night, after planning for a couple of weeks and packing up, I decided it was time. He left, I got the kids dressed, we got in the car, and we drove downtown. We put some gas in the car and then kept on driving. It was about 1 a.m. when we left. I later pulled over to rest and then began having car trouble the next day when we got back on the road. We finally made it to Arkansas after three or four days to my sister's house. We were not able to stay with her, and so I found myself at the Women's Shelter of Central Arkansas.
I was scared, full of swallowed pride and shame. I was greeted with friendly and caring faces, yet still unknown. We completed the intake process and were shown to our room. We rested, finally feeling safe. The time I was able to stay at the shelter allowed me to collect myself and make the start of a new life. Art Mondays were my favorite days; I was able to release what I was feeling through art with the other women. I was able to give my kids the most normal environment given the situation. The amazing volunteers who came to watch the kids in the back yard while we had our groups gave us a chance three times a week to have a little break. Tuesday’s support group allowed us to talk about things that had happened. I realized in that group that things that were happening to me were a form of abuse. We tend to only think about the physical signs we see of abuse, but there are many other ways I have learned. In Thursday’s group, we talked about our futures and plans, and we also frequently played games. I loved Thursdays also because it was our chance to have a little fun. There was one volunteer who was a former resident, who was graduating college and moving to a new city. Seeing her around and accomplishing her goals gave me the extra hope I needed to know everything would be OK as long as I worked hard enough.
Somewhat quickly, I found a job. It turned out to be the best job I have ever had, with people who really cared. People that heard about my situation donated household items we would need when it was time to move into our own place, It was one of the biggest displays of compassion and empathy I have had the honor to experience.
In one year I have tripled my income since the day I started working. I work with amazing individuals who have become mentors. I have the people at the shelter to thank for playing a vital role in my new journey. My story is one of triumph, and perseverance and determination. Thank you.