“I have had the blessing of having the opportunity to count on the Women’s Center. It is proof that by uniting, reaching for the same goals, one can achieve the greater good in everyone. I thank all those who have made possible this wonderful opportunity to get my life on track. As a mother of four children, I will never forget the help, as I am forming them to be good citizens. Thank you all for the attention and help. God says, ‘help the poor’, and you did!”
Melissa, a mother of four, first came to Women’s Center-Youth and Family Services (WCYFS) through a referral from Child Protective Services to our Safety Net program for domestic violence services and case management. It was here, at WCYFS, that Melissa learned she is not alone.
She had grown up in a rough, dysfunctional environment, and this cycle continued well into her adult life. She had suffered both physical and mental abuse at the hands of her spouse during her marriage. At first, Melissa was hesitant to accept help and didn’t want to burden or bother anyone. As WCYFS staff continued work with her, they reassured her that she could get help and support.
As an immigrant, Melissa had no family in the local area and relied heavily on her husband. She had endured years of abuse that her children witnessed, but she ultimately found the courage to stand up for herself and her children. She made the difficult decision to leave her abuser despite her limited resources for food, housing, and financial help. She gave up security and familiarity for freedom and safety.
As a result, she became homeless and started living in her car. While homeless, Melissa faced additional victimizations as she was robbed and physically assaulted, but she never gave up. Melissa proceeded to pursue custody of her children and filed a restraining order against her abuser, but she lost the custody battle. Her ex-husband had hired a lawyer and used the fact that Melissa was homeless against her in court.
Melissa’s immigration status was her biggest barrier to finding employment, housing, and financial support. To address this need, WCYFS partnered with a legal service provider to offer Immigration Clinics for participants. Melissa immediately signed up to take advantage of this resource, and what she learned gave her hope for a better future. Melissa learned what her rights were and how she could get her life back on track. Her main priority was getting her children back and being able to support them, both physically and emotionally.
Slowly and steadily, Melissa faced each obstacle that came her way with determination and grace. She continued to seek our services, and we worked together to break down each wall and reach each milestone. After WCYFS staff helped expedite her housing application and process, Melissa paid a visit to WCYFS with excitement – and a bit of disbelief – to share the fantastic news that she was approved for housing and had found a job. Because of our generous donors, Melissa was able to participate in our Adopt-A-Family event and received gift cards to help her purchase essentials for her new home.
Melissa is a living testament that it is possible to break the generational cycle of abuse and build a life free from violence. She embodies courage and serves as a role model for her children.