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Have Peace

A former Safe Harbor shelter client named "Alex" shared this letter with us last year. Alex wrote this letter for our counselors to share with current shelter clients during support groups and individual sessions, providing words of hope and encouragement to domestic violence victims
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The Map

by Samantha Tucker, Grants Manager, Safe Harbor

When I was 12, I was tired of being a tomboy and I wanted to be a cheerleader… to give bows and skirts a chance.  Tryouts were a several-day process of learning one chant and one cheer (those are apparently two very different things), then performing them in front of a judging panel.  Simple enough. 

I started out overconfident – after all, I was a gymnast and I could tumble across the floor like a rock skipping across water.  What more could it take?  But as the time drew closer my confidence lessened.  I suddenly felt less cute than the other girls, like I was wearing a costume.  I felt out of place.  I felt ill prepared.  My nerves hurt my stomach and I thought I might cry.

I walked into the gym and the panic intensified.  I froze.  There I stood, ponytailed girls chanting all around me, my feet stuck to the ground and my lips pressed closed.  It was awful.  How had I gone from an easygoing athletic girl to someone I’d never known myself to be?

Jennifer describes being a victim as being in many little pieces without knowledge of how to put the pieces back together.  What a powerful way to depict the experience.  Having worked at Safe Harbor for eight years, I’ve never heard it phrased this way but it very much resonates with me.  As I listened to her, I recalled that feeling from back when I was 12 years old – I’d known what I was capable of and what I needed to do.  But those feelings of inadequacy, of fear, of insecurity, and of panic were so much stronger.  They were completely debilitating. 

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