Shelter from the Storm
Cindy (not her real name) used her last few dollars to get to Turning Points Network’s emergency shelter. Sexually abused in her childhood, she was physically, emotionally and financially abused by her husband. Just before arriving at our shelter, her husband had strangled her until she lost consciousness, cut her arm in three places and raped her at knifepoint. She was terrified and trusted no one. Least of all, herself.
Today she holds her head high. While living in TPN’s shelter, she attended support groups, engaged in peer counseling and both she and her daughter are learning about trust.
“The shelter saved my life,” Cindy says. And it’s likely true. A year later, she is volunteering for a local agency, a first step on the way to her first job. And then on to sustainable housing and independence.
TPN’s shelter plays an important role in helping survivors begin a new life. Beyond providing immediate safety in volatile situations, the shelter is a microcosm of life in the real world. With 16 beds, the shelter offers up to five families a room of their own. The kitchen, dining and living room are shared spaces, with guests taking turns preparing meals and cleaning up, doing their laundry and rotating through household chores.
It can be challenging, being in crisis and sharing space with four other family units. Everyone is at a different stage in healing. Some need to socialize, some need quiet. Everyone feels uprooted.
Serving all of Sullivan County, the shelter offers its guests classes by TPN staff in financial empowerment – teaching how to open a checking account, how to complete a car loan application, how to budget and manage finances – something many survivors were unable to do when their abusive partner controlled the money.
“Before offering this Allstate-designed course, about 85% of survivors returned to their abusers for financial reasons,” explains TPN Executive Director, Deb Mozden. “Today, with the classes and transitional-to-sustainable housing supports, the number of survivors who return is less than 20%.”
Additionally, the shelter helps guests connect to community resources, find permanent housing, enhance the bond between moms and their children, all of whom experienced trauma, provide guidance for adults returning to school or preparing for job interviews, encouraging each step forward in a nonjudgmental environment.
“Without the TPN shelter, I don’t know where I’d be,” is heard often in TPN’s work and sums up the importance of having a safe haven to turn to when life literally and violently falls apart.
OUR TURN is a public service series made available by Turning Points Network in celebration of its 40th anniversary of providing violence-prevention education programs in our schools, services for survivors of domestic and sexual violence, and helping people move from the darkness of abuse toward the light of respect, healing and hope.