In Freedom

June 16, 2014

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”!

I am a survivor of domestic abuse.

“I didn’t know that I was being abused because...

I am a survivor of domestic abuse.

“I didn’t know that I was being abused because my definition of abuse looked different. My husband pushed me, but most of my suffering was verbal and psychological. I left my husband to protect our young daughter. Almost immediately I felt the weight of his oppression begin to lift. I could see a difference in my daughter as well. Then he broke into my home and assaulted me in-front of her.

I sought help and was led to Safe Harbor. My daughter and I are in counseling now. I am sorting out the mess that abuse has caused. I am finding my voice and seeking opportunities to grow and better my life as well as my daughter's. She will gauge her self-worth from my own self-worth. I must show her that she deserves the best, by expecting the best for myself.

Many years I suffered in silence. By telling my story and being honest with friends and family, I am taking control of my life again.”

- Beth



When you give to Safe Harbor, 82 cents of every dollar goes directly to our intervention services and prevention initiatives to break the cycle of domestic abuse in the Upstate of South Carolina. 

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