“I realize that I am worth more than what my past allowed me to be.”
“I was eight years old. I felt that the way somebody loves you is to molest you.”
Her name is Donika, and her story of abuse begins with that criminal act. If you’re already horrified, know that it gets worse. “We didn’t know it wasn’t right because it was our father,” she explains. “We believed that it was right.”
Six years later, she found what she thought was love with a 28-year-old man. “I got pregnant at age 14. I had no clue. He gave me everything I wanted and needed, so I felt like he was different than my dad. It didn’t register that I was being sexually abused by him until I was pregnant and the police came to my house.”
You’d hope her story stopped there, but like so many women, her view of love and relationships was shaped by her experiences. Through no fault of her own, she slipped into a cycle of self-loathing and self-destruction. Without any support system or real help, she stumbled from abusive relationship to abusive relationship. Her only solace was her children, but the darkness eventually led her to believe there was no hope. A failed suicide attempt led to a desperate call to a place called Sheltering Wings.
Here, Donika received the support and resources she never had. We know that empowering women and promoting independence and stability for their families decreases the likelihood they’ll return to abuse. And just as important, we helped Donika love herself again. “I’m stronger. I realize that I’m worth more than what my past allowed me to be.”
If you ever wonder why we make such a big deal about Domestic Violence Awareness Month, consider this: Somewhere near you is another Donika. Maybe she lives on your street. Maybe she attends your church. Maybe you walked past her in the supermarket last week.
With your help, we can reach her and pull her out of the cycle before it’s too late.
In His Service,