Note: This is the third post in DASH’s ongoing What It Takes blog series, which examines and explains the various factors that make getting safe from abuse so difficult. Each post explores factors that survivors have to navigate on their journey to finding safety. Learn more about the campaign at the What It Takes page, and please spread the word: #WhatItTakesDC.
This is a guest post from a current DASH resident.
I remember sitting down just wanting to cry full of anger, frustration and heartache, only nothing would come. I was so numb, so hurt I didn’t know who I was or how I even got here or what I was going to do. I just kept going, kept moving. I had so much to do. I had to be everything for everyone. I couldn’t be what I needed to be for myself. I could no longer take off the mask, it was who I became.
I began to realize that this abuse stemmed from childhood abuse. I started going to the Lighthouse for counseling and at first I wore my mask there too, but I started to crack and the pieces I had been trying to hold together began to shatter until I could no longer salvage it.
Throughout my abuse I kept records, I would constantly take pictures, write letters to use as documentation and I would go to the ER just to get a record.
My counselor at the Lighthouse referred me to the Housing Resource Clinic and I was hesitant at first but I went just to inquire. The staff was so welcoming but it still felt uncomfortable. I took the info I needed and began to plan as things began to get worse at home, not just for me, but for my children. My abuser cut my gas off then next the lights. I began to get harassed at work. The more I tried to do better, the more I felt defeated. I was so tired, so embarrassed I didn’t know what to do. I looked into my children’s eyes and saw so much hurt and anger. They became resentful of me and aggressive. I remember going to bed crying every night.
The more I tried to do better, the more I felt defeated. I was so tired, so embarrassed I didn’t know what to do.
The next week I showed up at the Housing Resource Clinic again. I researched programs, I was determined, I kept calling. Finally, after some months, DASH had an opening in their Cornerstone emergency safe housing program, “We have space, you can move in.” Those simple words echoed in my head. It felt unreal.
I was hesitant of everything. I moved in first and stayed for a week before I allowed my kids to come to make sure it was safe. I was so depressed I sat on the floor for hours crying. I felt like a horrible mother. I remember when I first came I looked around Cornerstone and everyone seemed ok, I felt so alone and out of place. Later I came to the realization that the other women were also wearing masks.
I went to DASH with a purpose, we are going to be healed. I don’t care if we have anything else, but we are going to be healed. I didn’t understand how it was going to happen or even what healing was but I was determined.
At first it seemed like things were getting worse, but it had to feel worse before it got better. I had to be retaught from my thinking to my true feelings to get to the root of the issue.
It was the most important, life changing thing that happened to me. I began to relearn me. I began to love me and be the best person I could be to me and my children. I was blessed to have come across DASH. It has allowed me to heal. DASH allowed me to be able to hear my own voice and recognize where I was mentally, psychologically and even emotionally.
Start today, trust yourself again, love yourself again. Know that you deserve the best. Your life depends on you. Be determined.
You can learn more about what it takes for survivors to get safe at WhatItTakes.org or donate to DASH to support access to safe housing for survivors here.