“Domestic violence does not know race, status, education, or anything, and it can happen to any of us. For years, I suffered from the abuse. Had I not gotten pregnant, I probably would have stayed. But, when I found out, I knew I had to find a way to escape."
For over seven years, I suffered from an extreme domestic violence situation. It started out as emotional, then financial, and then physical. Domestic violence does not know race, status, education, or anything, and it can happen to any of us. For years, I suffered from the abuse. Had I not gotten pregnant, I probably would have stayed. But, when I found out, I knew I had to find a way to escape.
I was able to break free from my abusive husband and I fled, across the country, to Washington. I left my job, my friends, everything I had ever known. I had a two year old autistic daughter and little more than the clothes we were wearing. But, I was hopeful for a new start and a safe place for my children.
I stayed temporarily with extended family. I became involved with Step By Step, when the WIC office referred me for support for my pregnancy.
My first case manager was Cheri. She was very understanding with my situation. Together, we sat down and prioritized my needs, which were a lot.
I needed safe housing, medical and prenatal care, and I was struggling with depression. Cheri worked really hard with me, especially trying to get me housing and transportation.
I stayed positive and took an active role in all the changes in my life. I had people who cared about me. When I finally secured a place to stay, Step By Step was able to help refer me to the Furniture Bank, and I was able to get donated furniture for my new place. Then, in July, Step By Step surprised me with a donated car through their Motors 4 Moms program. When my baby girl was born later that month, they helped make sure I had everything that I needed for my baby.
Since I had moved to a new location since my pregnancy, I was connected with a new case manager, Kris, and an Infant Case Manager, Katie, to help me after my baby was born. Katie has been there for my family in everything. Things were going fairly well, but then a disaster happened. I had been living in my apartment less than 7 months, and there was a fire. I lost everything, including my car.
It was Katie, Step By Step’s staff, and some generous donors who rallied together to help. I was very much comforted. They made sure we had emergency food, shelter, and clothing. Katie called me often to provide emotional support to help me get through.
Not long afterwards, I received a very exciting phone call with a job offer with DSHS in Children’s Administration. I had received a Master’s Degree in Social Work, during my time in New York, and I was excited to start a new career and to be able to provide for my family. The first person I called was Katie to tell her the news. I was worried though, because now I didn’t have any office attire!
Katie was so excited for me, and she brought me a whole entire working wardrobe, along with a dresser!
I started working, but I had to rely on buses to get me there. I would wake up at 4:00 am to get ready for the bus, to make it to the job on time, and I would get home late. It took a toll on me and my family. When I got my first paycheck, I went and bought a car so that I could better manage the time, continue nursing my baby, and have some more sleep.
Katie has continued to be in our lives and has become a family member to me. I will never forget Step By Step and all they have done for me. I had the chance to volunteer at their fundraising dinner and auction, and I plan to give back as much as I can, once I settle and stabilize my family.
Life is starting to have a true meaning to me now. I would like to give a special thanks to my three favorite case managers – Cheri, Kris, and Katie. God bless Step By Step, everyone who works there, and all the people who donate to this wonderful, amazing organization!