Stories of Domestic Violence Survivors at The Retreat
“I know that you have a lot of pain but you didn’t have to take it out on my mom. Did you ever think for a second how this affects not just me but my sisters, your daughters?”`
When a boy is mean to you, it means he likes you. But I say to them, there is never a time when someone being mean to you is love. Ever. There is never a time when someone hurting you translates to love.
But once he was gone, I realized I could provide for my family. I was better off without him. I told him the day I leave you is forever
Life after they seek help
Gina came to the Retreat right before Christmas. She fled from her abusive husband who was the father of her three children. She had been beaten and raped on a regular basis in front of their children. Living in the safety of the Retreat shelter where she and her children regularly received counseling, Gina began to regain her self-esteem and confidence in two short months.
With the support of Retreat’s legal advocates, Gina obtained an order of protection and custody of her children. She was able to reunite with her family — family she hadn’t seen in years — because of the isolation and control her husband had imposed.
She still keeps in touch with the Retreat to let us know that she is doing well. Gina’s kids, now 5, 11, and 12 are thriving in school, and she is working at a bank. Gina tells us she is happy
Marie graduated from high school and started college to pursue her dream of becoming a nurse. At 19, those dreams were cut short when she became pregnant a few months into a relationship and her abuser told her she was not allowed to go to school. He controlled what she wore, who she could spend time with and how her money was spent.
Her credit was ruined after he opened accounts in her name. Marie became isolated from her friends and family. Her life completely changed in the span of one year.
With help from Retreat counselors, legal advocates and Take Charge!, our financial empowerment program, Marie became determined to gain back control of her life. She has blossomed from a quiet, doubtful victim, to a confident and strong survivor. Today, Marie is living independently with her son, has a full-time job, and is planning to go back to nursing school.
I was isolated and afraid, and was told every day that I was crazy. On a routine domestic call to the Southampton town police, an officer noticed something wasn’t right. Thankfully he asked my husband to leave and pulled me aside and said, “I can help you. There is more going on than you are letting on.” I, of course, said no and he gave me The Retreat’s phone number and said, “Please call. They can help you.”
The Retreat was my strength, my Santa, my Thanksgiving Dinner, my lawyer, my counseling for two years and my ONLY safe haven. WE made it. I have sole custody of my children. My kids are happy and healthy and I again have a full social circle and an emotionally healthy life. What happened to me doesn’t define me. It was a moment in time that made me stronger. I could not have gotten through this without the Retreat.
I just wanted to say a few words of gratitude and encouragement to everyone working at The Retreat. It’s been almost a year now since I lived at the Shelter. I would love to tell you my war is over, but it just isn’t so. The truth is it may not be for a long time but I now have the courage and self respect to deal with that.
The Retreat not only provided me with basic needs such as good food and a warm, clean place to sleep, it also gave me opportunities to rebuild my self-esteem. The yoga classes, access to the gym, Mary Kay makeovers, and haircuts were not required but it showed that you cared not only about my problem but you understood my situation as a whole. Small things like these that matter most when a woman loses her sense of self through domestic violence. The smallest pleasure can serve as the greatest reminder of how good life can be. Self love is the foundation needed for change, to lead into a positive direction.
I was a recipient of The Retreat’s various services for a few years. They helped me in the darkest of times. I happened upon their door step very scared, anxiety ridden, dazed and without a clue of how to go about getting protection from my spouse. I felt as if I was all alone in the world and none of my family or friends would understand. I was embarrassed.
They helped me complete all my necessary paperwork to file for an order of protection. They sat and held my hand in the Family court’s waiting room and were there for me at every court hearing thereafter. The Retreat helped me and my children through our worst time and left us with the tools to start a new life. I am forever grateful to the staff at The Retreat for my time with them. I went from an alone, scared, stay at home mom with no money of my own to a strong, confident woman who got a job and worked hard to put myself and my children in a position where we can pay it forward.
A survivor who stayed with us for an extended period arrived with little English, no phone, one autistic child, a toddler in a stroller and later gave birth to a premature newborn (she’d been afraid to tell us she was pregnant). We ultimately helped her find housing—through our transitional housing program—and we continue to pay for her phone, the only way she’s able to stay in touch with her counselor and case manager.
While no longer at the shelter, we continue to support her through a referral to a food pantry, helping enroll her older children in school, and providing needed baby items, all particularly critical as she’s found it difficult to land a job with young, high-needs children.