Journey to Wholeness: Escaping Domestic Violence
January 21, 2020
Rev. Dr. Elaine Y. Sanford, Founder of HER Faith Ministries
Women who experience the trauma of domestic violence may lose more than their peace of mind or personal safety. For 27-year-old Felecia J., it has meant starting all over again. It has meant struggling to set up a new household for herself and two small children. It has meant juggling a job which she can’t afford to lose, managing daycare and school for her children while trying to keep up her own studies to complete an Associate’s degree.
Felecia’s situation is further compounded by the fact that she is seven-months pregnant and has essentially been homeless since she was forced to flee the violence of her own home several months ago. She had been content staying with a friend in a cramped apartment up until the end of 2019, when the friend notified her that she was being evicted due to past due rent. So, once again, Felecia was facing the reality that she and her children had no place to go.
When Felecia called the HER Faith Ministries office, she was seeking an emergency shelter. She said that she really did not want to go to a shelter, but had few options since she had little money and no family to help her. Felecia had even paid the deposit on an apartment hoping that landlords would consider waiting for the rent. But they said no and that she would have to have pay the rent in order to move in.
After meeting and talking with Felecia, we learned that she was still pursuing her Medical Assistant classes despite the stress of her situation. Since graduating from Mitchell High School in 2010, she has attended school off and on, but was determined to get an education. In 2012, she thought that she met the man that she would spend her life with. But, after years of verbal and emotional abuse, she finally realized that she had to get out of the situation. The reality hit her hard when one day her seven-year-old asked, “Mommy, why is daddy so mean to you?”
She says she realized that even a child could see what she had refused to admit. She was the victim of domestic abuse. So, with no money or resources to take care of herself and her children, Felecia accepted a friend’s offer to get away. She moved into the cramped apartment and had been doing her best to provide for herself and the children while trying to rebuild her life. News of the impending eviction was yet another blow.
“I didn’t know what we were going to do. I just picked up the phone and started calling homeless shelters to try to find a place. I am so thankful that I ended up talking to the people at HER Faith Ministries.”
After completing a Needs Assessment with Felecia and discussing her history, goals and aspirations for the future, we were able to help her to develop a plan for how she intends to move from homelessness and dependence to a more stable future. We first had to help Felecia to see that she is not a victim; that though she is pregnant and has little money, she still has power.
“They helped me to understand that I have power to make my own decisions, and I have a job with health coverage and a car to get around in. My kids are both healthy and I’m healthy. So, I have some control of my life,” Felecia said. “I guess I didn’t think about the things that I had going for me.”
Felecia also had not considered the fact that she is about to complete her associate degree from the local community college. All that she really needed were the resources to acquire and furnish an apartment.
Because of the funds that HER Faith Ministries receives from the National Benevolent Association, our ministry has been able to assist Felecia by paying the move-in expenses including rent, utilities and home furnishings.
“I believe that we helped Felecia to gain her power back,” said Elaine Sanford, executive director of the program. “We have seen women like her return to bad and abusive situations because they had no other options. I think that the longer Felecia went without housing, the more challenges she would’ve faced and it would’ve become easier to go back to the harmful situation. We are so pleased that she seems to be stronger and is making good choices for herself and her family’s future.”
Every family is different, and their needs are different. HER Faith Ministries is able to prevent families such as Felecia’s from falling further into poverty and/or becoming victims of the homeless population. Sometimes, it only takes a little help and the willingness to journey with those in need.
To learn more about Her Faith Ministries, visit their website: http://www.herfaithministries.org.
As the health and social services general ministry of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), the National Benevolent Association partners with congregations, regions, general ministries, and a variety of Disciples-related health and social service providers to create communities of compassion and care. Founded in 1887 by six women responding to the needs of the day and on their doorsteps, for more than 130 years the NBA has continued to serve "the least of these." Learn more at www.nbacares.org.