(Photos and names have been changed to protect the client’s identity.)
Natasha has two children, ages 6 and 3. Her mother was mentally ill and physically abusive. She never really knew her father. Natasha was attracted to the first man who was nice to her. At first things were wonderful. He bought her gifts and took her out to dinner. She married him when she was 19; he was 29. Shortly after the marriage his attitude changed. Her husband would criticize everything she did. Natasha tried to keep the house looking nice and make meals that he liked, but he always found fault with something. Even after her first child was born the abuse continued. Her husband might come home in a rage and beat her. Most of the time she never knew what made him angry. One night he threw her down the stairs. When she was in the hospital, the doctor was very kind and asked her if she had ever been abused. This physician referred her to Safe Haven’s shelter.
Once in the shelter Natasha felt supported by the counselors. Slowly she began to regain her self-esteem and confidence. She had never been allowed to work, so she applied for state benefits. Her shelter counselor helped her apply for medical insurance for herself and the children. The six year old was enrolled in our local school. After three months in the shelter, Natasha was able to get a subsidized apartment. She now has a job in retail and her younger son goes to daycare. Her dream is to become a pharmacist and plans to work on her degree once her son is in school full time
Kathleen has had an unbelievably difficult life. When she was 11 years old she was sexually assaulted by her mother’s boyfriend. She was courageous enough to tell her teacher who contacted her mom. Kathleen’s mom did not believe her and sent her to live with her grandparents in Alabama. Kathleen’s grandfather would often beat her with his belt and locked her in a dark woodshed for hours. At fourteen, Kathleen became pregnant with her first child. Her grandparents sent her back to Connecticut but her mom would not take her in so she lived with her dad for a short time. By the time Kathleen was 16 she had another baby. Kathleen’s mom had a very good job with the State but would never help her financially. Finally Kathleen’s mom found her an apartment with a rent of $500 per month. Her mom left her there with her 18 month old son and 2 month old daughter.
All they had was one air mattress, a black and white TV and two packages of diapers. Kathleen was collecting welfare which only paid her $500 a month. She went through the newspapers looking for work. She immediately got a job at the local Dunkin Donuts because she convinced the manager that she would be a very hard worker. Luckily, she found daycare across town. Every day, Kathleen would take her children on the bus for daycare and then go to work. Kathleen was having a lot of flashbacks from the years of sexual abuse. She received counseling from the Safe Haven adult advocate for over six months. She has been able to recover from the trauma and is able to cope with any triggers that bring back the abuse. Kathleen has worked very hard for the past five years. She has moved on to a better job that allows her to support herself and her children.
Safe Haven of Greater Waterbury has been a lifeline for Becky, a survivor of domestic violence. Watch Becky’s story, produced by our partners at Connecticut Community Foundation. Thanks to many generous donors, including members of its Women’s Giving Circle, Connecticut Community Foundation has awarded grants to Safe Haven to help women like Becky restore hope and reclaim their lives.
Learn more about the Foundation at conncf.org.