By Athena Hughes, JV Outreach Coordinator
The mission of the Women’s and Children’s Alliance is to provide safety, healing, and freedom to survivors of domestic abuse and sexual assault. Everything we do aims to give people a chance to find these three things in some way. Each of those three words contains a multitude of meanings, depending on the complex background and hopes of each individual who comes to us.
The word “freedom” can mean many things to different people who have been through an ordeal like sexual assault or domestic abuse. It can mean having healthy ways to cope with the painful effects of trauma; finding safe housing, a job, or continuing education; being in charge of personal finances; being able to set personal boundaries; breaking the cycle of violence in their family; or feeling able and worthy to make their own decisions, maybe for the first time ever. It often means living without fear of another person. These are some of the goals that our residents and community clients have worked toward, and many have achieved them in ways they may not have imagined.
We have seen former residents express a new sense of freedom as they move out of our shelter and on to the next phase of their healing process. One woman told us, “I have become a stronger, more stable, and healthy individual and mother due to this program.” Another expressed several elements of what her personal sense of freedom meant: “You have changed my miserable life into a productive [one] and made me whole again mentally, physically, spiritually.”
What all of these brave individuals share is that they are on a long, difficult journey. The road to freedom does not always go in a direct, forward line, and each person’s path is unique. Survivors may encounter many challenges, obstacles, and setbacks in the process of healing from the layered traumas of abuse and working toward safety and freedom for themselves and their families. But with each challenge comes the opportunity to push forward and take another step toward being able to live fully and without fear.
At each stage in this journey, we seek to empower each one of our courageous clients to make the choices and find the resources they need to be free. We offer support and condolence when there are challenges and celebrate with them at the many victories, big and small.