“I’m tired. I can’t do this anymore, even if I have nothing. I have to leave if me and my kids are ever going to have a chance. I don’t want them to think it’s ok to treat women that way.”
Ashley Spencer, a mother of two, was in a physically and mentally abusive relationship for 5 years. She was employed but continued to lose jobs because of his controlling ways. She hid the abuse from her family because she was embarrassed and needed to find somewhere to go for safety. Ashley called the YWCA Domestic Violence hotline and was able to move into shelter immediately. She packed a bag for each of her children, but only had the clothes on her back, and made the greatest and most difficult decision she’s ever made – to leave.
Living in a shelter with other families who have experienced significant trauma is challenging. It’s hard to get comfortable – everyone there is working through significant issues. Through group and individual sessions with caring and compassionate staff she was able to begin thinking clearly again and create a plan to rebuild her life. Staff were there every step of the way to ensure long-term safety and self-sufficiency goal were attained.
She read about YWCA’s First Course on a flyer at the shelter and knew that was her key to being self-sufficient. At the conclusion of the 6-week program, participants participate in 12 mock interviews with local restaurant managers. She was offered a serving position by 10 restaurants and chose to work at Nicholson’s where she feels valued, part of a team, and is able to earn what she needs to take care of her family.
Ashley qualified for housing through YWCA’s rapid rehousing program. To ensure long-term success, she meets with her housing case manager bi-weekly to work on financial literacy and any other barriers to self-sufficiency, and also to receive the emotional support someone who has experienced the trauma of abuse needs to be emotionally well.
“Now I’m not embarrassed to talk about it because I’m a survivor. I hope sharing my experience with others gives someone in an abusive relationship the courage to call the YWCA. It could save their life.”