Hear the stories of survivors who reclaimed their power and independence.
“The words I heard that day were simple but really made a difference for me: this was not my fault.”
Adrian came home from a first date feeling shock, anguish and fear: they had just been a victim of acquaintance rape. They picked up the phone to call the YWCA’s 24-hour helpline to look for help. Speaking to an advocate, they learned about our Nurse Examiner Program which provides medical exams for physical injuries, forensic evidence collection, and a supportive environment where each survivor is in complete control of the exam. Adrian scheduled an appointment for the next day.
When they arrived for their medical-forensic exam, Adrian was greeted by a volunteer nurse advocate and nurse examiner. Their compassionate support, and the understanding that Adrian had full control over the exam, immediately made Adrian feel calmer. During the exam, the nurse holistically assessed Adrian for any medical needs while also offering evidence collection. The nurse also talked them through options for reporting the assault to law enforcement. With the support of the advocate and nurse, Adrian decided not to report the assault at the time of the exam, but was reassured by the YWCA’s ability to store their evidence kit in case they changed their mind in the future.
Before Adrian left, the nurse provided them with instructions for how to care for their injuries as well as the important reassurance that their body would heal. The nurse and advocate ensured that Adrian had a safe place to return to, reviewed safety tips, and provided information about additional resources including support groups, counseling, and advocacy services.
When the follow-up nurse called Adrian a few days later to check in, Adrian was able to say that they were feeling better. They had felt brave enough to tell their mother about the assault, and she had supported them whole-heartedly. Adrian also made the decision to report the assault to law enforcement; the nurse supported them in their decision and was able to coordinate the release of Adrian’s evidence kit. Adrian expressed immense gratitude to the nurse for the care and left the NEP feeling supported and empowered to take back control over their life.
“I didn’t know if men could be victims of domestic violence, but I knew what I was experiencing wasn’t right.”
Shane, a married father with two kids, came to the YWCA looking for answers. He didn’t think men could be victims of domestic abuse, but he found the courage to walk in our door and ask about the violence and unrelenting control he was experiencing at the hands of his spouse. He met with a Crisis Advocate and left that visit feeling seen, heard and empowered by the support and information he received. That first visit was difficult, but it was a catalyst for changes that would transform his life and the lives of his children.
After experiencing a more aggressive form of abuse from his partner, he reached out again to make an exit plan. The Advocacy & Resource Services team supported him with crisis advocacy and legal advocacy as he went through the divorce process and began the fight for custody of his child. ARS walked alongside Shane for months, being a safe space and listening ear for him. Over time, Shane began to reveal the power within himself. With the supportive advocacy of the YWCA, he felt validated in his experience as a male survivor. He encouraged other male survivors in his social circle to reach out for help too.
Shane won full custody of his child and reached a close to his divorce case. ARS supported he and his child as they walked through the transition together, including working towards the child feeling comfortable engaging in services and discussing the impact of witnessing domestic violence in their home. Today, Shane reports feeling empowered, safer, and more confident in his life.
“Asking for help is never easy. But I now feel empowered to take back control of my future.”
From the outside, no one would have guessed Mia was struggling. She had just celebrated her 10-year anniversary with her partner, who provided them with a secure, upper-middle class lifestyle. But behind closed doors, her partner, who was once caring and attentive, had grown to be physically abusive, manipulative, and controlling. Reaching a breaking point, Mia made the decision that she had to leave the relationship for good. Overwhelmed at the thought of starting over and having to be financially independent for the first time, Mia started with a phone call to the YWCA.
As she talked through her options, it became clear that she needed a temporary place to stay; YWCA’s emergency shelter became that place. Because she and her partner were not married, Mia had no access to the resources she enjoyed while living with him. He had used finances to control her, and would not even allow her to return to the home to collect her clothing because he paid for it. The only thing he didn’t want, and threatened that she take, was her cat and dog. In her first conversations with YWCA advocates, Mia expressed her need to have her pets taken care of; during a chaotic and frightening time, they provided her with a sense of family. In addition to supporting Mia through her move to the emergency shelter, a YWCA advocate coordinated with a local kennel to find a place for her pets to stay during her transition. Visiting her pets was a source of comfort as she moved from a life that was controlled by her ex-partner to one of independence.
While in shelter, Mia was referred to the YWCA’s Advocacy & Resource Services to access supportive services for depression which led to joining a domestic violence support group and YWCA counseling services. With the wraparound services of the YWCA, Mia regained a sense of hopefulness and empowerment and, with the support of an advocate, began planning an independent future. This included finding employment, preparing to move into safe, affordable housing for her and her pets. Today, Mia is able to look ahead to a life of independence and safety.
“I feel like I got my dad back.”
After witnessing incidents of abuse against his mother, Jayden didn’t feel safe around his father. His trust had been broken time and time again. Jayden’s parents felt they were out of options for how to move forward as co-parents. Jayden’s father was devastated by the realization that his actions severed his relationship with his son. With a referral to Safe Connections, Jayden and his father had an opportunity to re-enter one another’s lives in a safe and controlled environment. How they grew in the program was up to them.
For almost a year, Jayden and his father met up weekly through Safe Connections. During this supervised parenting time, they had an uninterrupted hour to talk about everything in Jayden’s life, from school to friends to sports. Jayden’s dad began packing dinner to share each week, and Jayden looked forward to this night he affectionately called “dinner with dad.” With Safe Connections’ compassionate expertise and support, their family moved on to unsupervised visits and no longer needed the services of the YWCA.
In a follow-up call, Jayden’s father excitedly shared that he was on his way to pick up his son from school. Something that was unthinkable when the family first came to the YWCA had slowly become a new, empowered reality.
Names in stories and testimonials are changed to ensure client confidentiality. Stock photography is used for illustrative purposes only.