I want to let you know what it is like to be a resident of this shelter and how I was treated. You should know it was the most wonderful experience of my life. What I saw as a resident of this shelter was a group of people who were so skilled at what they did that they made it look easy, but more importantly, they genuinely cared about what happened to each and every one of us.
I don't know if you realize what it means from the perspective of a battered woman to go through all the programs that DOVE offers. The support groups taught me how to build my self-esteem. They helped me to learn all over again how to make decisions on my own. The community living gave me friends that I was never allowed to have before and the Parenting group helped me to be the mother that I knew I was deep down inside, but was having a hard time being because of the abuse I had endured. Two years ago I was a totally different person. I could hardly talk and all I did was cry, but by the time I left DOVE I was already becoming a strong and healthy person because of the help the staff have gave me. I think the most important thing that was given to me though was the encouragement to do things for myself, not someone doing all the work I had to do for me. But yet the staff was always there if I needed them.
After I left DOVE, I went through the community group and again that was so much support for me. I learned so much. More importantly, my then 3 year old daughter learned so much.
Thank you so much!"
-- A former shelter and community-based services client
"I am a 44-year old woman and mother. At the age of 42, I truly didn't understand that I had the right to say "no", or that I had the right to say much of anything at all. After filing a restraining order against my abuser, I was referred to DOVE. That day changed my life.
At DOVE I found the most wonderful group of women. They truly understood what my 5-year-old and I were going through. They never asked me why I stayed; not once did they tell me what I should or must do. They knew, and I knew, when the time was right, I would do what I needed. I needed to stop worrying about what other people were thinking- they weren't living in my shoes. I think after the second or third support group session, a group leader said something that changed my life: "We all have the right to make our own choices, our behavior, our goals. We choose as individuals to behave the way we do. No one controls you but you." Why it took that statement, I don't know. I do know those words changed my life. DOVE saved my being. I was lost, I was scared and I didn't want my baby seeing or hearing any more. I couldn't handle it anymore. Just hearing the support from my group leader and letting out what I was feeling made it okay.
Domestic violence comes in many forms. It holds a character of its own: fear, intimidation, control, pushing, threats, the look in your baby's eyes. The worst form of all is the one that happens behind closed doors. It eats away at you and you hope and pray no one ever finds out. I lost myself in years. I still don't know if I'll ever come back. Then again, maybe I don't want her back. I AM A SURVIVOR. Thank you."
--Written by a former community services client
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