Domestic abuse has many forms. Not long ago, a woman came to our shelter exhausted, withdrawn and weak from years of cruel verbal abuse. Her husband called her disgusting, fat, dirty and ugly. He called her a terrible mother. He berated her continually and in deliberate secrecy. When others left the room, sometimes just for a minute, he would whisper cruel jabs into her ear. Kindness in front of others was only to manipulate her, to convince her that she had wrongly interpreted things.
One day, seemingly without thought, Carolyn veered off her planned course and into the parking lot of the YWCA emergency shelter.
“Am I crazy?” she asked.
Her husband, after all, never hit her. “He must be right,” she said, “because it’s just me that he hates.”
Carolyn began sobbing as a YWCA shelter advocate gently answered, “This isn’t okay.”
Aggressive verbal abuse was achieving her partner’s goal. He controlled her. She withdrew from friends. He rationalized his behavior and pointed blame at his victim. Twisted in the right way, he steered her thoughts toward mental illness.
A YWCA Shelter Advocate explained the cycle of abuse that Carolyn was caught in.
In reality, Carolyn is a compassionate and smart woman who worked reliably at a job of many years. And she loves her grown daughter more than anything.
Carolyn’s YWCA Advocate asked her to reflect about the relationship and assured her the shelter would hold a room for her until midnight. She then talked with her about safety planning, something we do with every woman who comes to us seeking answers but undecided about leaving an abusive relationship. Carolyn left YWCA that day with much to consider.
We’re happy to tell you Carolyn did come back.
In her time at the emergency shelter, her Advocate guided Carolyn through courageous work to recover physically, mentally and emotionally from torturing verbal abuse and manipulation.
Carolyn’s Advocate discovered she had grown up in an abusive home. At age 12, her father left. She suffered her husband’s enduring cruelty out of fear of leaving her own child fatherless. “She really had no idea what a healthy relationship looked like.”
Today, Carolyn has this knowledge.
Within days of coming to the shelter, her Advocate hardly recognized Carolyn. A woman who had been sullen, physically exhausted, clothed with no bra and no self-esteem met her in the hall with her head held high and wearing makeup for the first time in many years. “I felt that peace had come over her.”
Carolyn has moved on from the shelter. Today, she continues working successfully in her job. She has been kindly supported by her family. And she feels safe.
In fact, she thanks YWCA for saving her life. This misery would have eventually ended, Carolyn says, either with her husband killing her or her own suicide as a result of his tormenting.
We cannot do this important work without you.
Heartfelt thank you to all who empower women like Carolyn through your gifts to provide safe shelter at YWCA. You provide support resources that brave women can discover to grow and live free from abuse.
There’s still time before 2016 runs out! Give today to help light a path out of darkness for so many women.