by Alejandra Mancilla, Safe Harbor Family Advocate
When you see a woman crying in your office because of all she has endured, and you see in her eyes the determination to do anything and everything in her power to gain her independence, self-esteem, and dignity; you can’t help but fight with her and for her.
This Spring, I had the privilege to meet “Natalie” and her two children, “Jackie” and “Mark”. She came to Safe Harbor feeling broken, not only due to the abuse she had experienced in her marriage, but also because she had no support from her nearby family. Her family wanted her to endure the abuse and see if it would all work out on its own. They kept siding with and having compassion for her abuser instead of holding him accountable. Natalie was tired. She was fed up. She was determined to never go back.
Natalie’s husband was very controlling of her whereabouts, and she was truly concerned for her safety and the safety of her children, even when she came to stay at our Greenville shelter. For fear that he would find the exact location of the shelter, Natalie decided to leave the state to start life in a new place where she and her children would be able to live a life free from fear. Although she had many barriers and obstacles in her way, Natalie did not let them stop her. Safe Harbor was able to help her to successfully move to a safer home in a new region of the U.S.
I recently heard from Natalie, and she informed me of how good her life is going. She has found a new job, is working on continued safety planning and financial management, and is in the process of getting her license. I smiled while talking over the phone with her, remembering that when she left Safe Harbor, we labeled the directions to her new destination “FREEDOM”. And, that is where she is now. She is “in freedom”!