My name is Anne. I want to share my story with you to give you a glimpse of my journey and to let you know just how much the Red Door helped change my life.
The reality of abuse is that it can happen to anyone. I was a married, I had an education, two beautiful young children, a nice house with a pool, all the things that are supposed to be the mark of success and the “good life”. That’s what it looked like on the outside, but on the inside, I was crying.
Not a day would go by where I wouldn’t have some kind of anxiety or panic attack because of my husband’s aggression. It was really the ongoing emotional cruelty and mental anguish that he caused me and my children. My daughter was only 12 months, but my young son Jacob was old enough to feel the tension in the house. He heard the yelling and the screaming every night. When Jacob wouldn’t go to bed, my husband would rage and swear at him, and shake him in his crib. When I intervened his aggression would turn against me. At 2 and a half years old, Jacob still didn’t speak.
I still didn’t fully realize it until I actually made the call and the woman on the other end told me “you are abused and you need help”.
It’s easy to be in an abusive situation and think it’s normal. You just sink down into that prison because you don’t know that there are resources out there to help you. But then things just get to a certain point where you just can’t take it anymore. I knew that my children were in jeopardy if we stayed any longer, but still, all these questions were going through my head: Can I really leave my home and life behind? Am I really abused enough? I still didn’t fully realize it until I actually made the call and the woman on the other end told me “you are abused and you need help”.
When we arrived at the Red Door it was a total shock for me and for the children. It really registered for us when we finally sat down in the family room, looked at each other and just started to cry. The children were scared and I couldn’t help but keep questioning myself: did I make the right decision? One of the other mothers came up to me and hugged me. “It’ll be alright”. It was that immediate sense of family that made me realize that despite everything, this was truly the first day of a new beginning for us.
There were just so many levels of support there, from taking care of the necessary legal arrangements, to providing little things like diapers or shampoo if we needed it. But for me it was the power of other women coming together to share their stories that brought me through it. The weekly meeting nights and workshop activities gave us all a sense of collective peace and constant reassurance. It was really therapy that you could never place a dollar value on.
Most of all, I’m grateful for the help they gave my son though the children’s programs and also connecting him with the Children’s Development Institute. You can’t imagine how happy I am to see him come out of his shell and smile again.
We didn’t stay for very long, just under 2 months, but honestly for me, the Red Door provided that sanctuary that I desperately needed to get back control over my life and to begin to build a healthy future for my son and daughter. The resources that they connected us with have been invaluable - finding housing, therapy support, daycare for my children, and even the food bank when we need it. It’s really like we’re still part of that family, knowing that our outreach worker is there for us anytime we need her. With that kind of support behind you, there’s no way you can’t succeed.
I just can’t say thank you enough to the Red Door for giving me a new beginning.
So I urge you, tell other people about the Red Door, and get involved in anyway you can. Organizations like this are so important because there are so many other women out there who’re caught in desperate situations and need a way out. I make it my part to share my story and to tell people about the Red Door and their work. I want other women to know about the resources that are available so that they don’t have to live through fear and violence like I did. If by doing so I can help save just one other woman like me, I would be forever grateful.
Anne is now a licensed Paralegal and will be returning to Law School in the fall to pursue a career in Criminal Law.
Learn more about how you can help women like Anne.