Ramona knows a thing or two about adversity. After enduring almost 20 years of physical, verbal, and emotional abuse at the hands of her ex-husband, she had to completely start her life over. Like many other women across the state, Ramona (whose last name is being withheld for her privacy) turned to Sheltering Wings for help.
But the decision wasn’t entirely hers. it took a little nudge from her pastor to get the ball rolling. “I never said anything because I figured it was just between us.” Ramona said of her years of silence about the abuse. She said her ex-husband would not only subject her to physical abuse, but would also do other horrific things like sleep with a gun, shut off the electricity when she was spending time with their children, and threaten her. He was even abusive to the children. Eventually she and the children got out. Leaving was no easy task. Her opportunity to escape the situation came mixed with personal sadness. A friend and fellow church member passed away and Ramona, who did not have a driver’s license, needed a ride to the funeral. Her husband offered, but on the day of the service he was under the influence of pills. “I don’t know how many he took, he must have taken a lot because he started acting funny,” Ramona said.
When they arrived at her church the police were called and Ramona’s husband was transported to the hospital under detention because he had weapons in his car. He threatened whoever was involved in turning him in. Ramona’s pastor urged her to take the children and leave while he was in the hospital. “At first I was debating because I loved him,” she said. “I didn’t want him to die. I wanted to be there if anything happened.” She knew she had to protect herself and her children. So she took her pastor’s advice and went to a nearby domestic violence shelter. They stayed there for two weeks and were moved to Sheltering Wings. It was here that her life started over. For Ramona and the children, it wasn’t a complete and instant relief. The abuse was over but adjusting to life in a shelter took some time. “It was hard because you have to give up everything you have,” Ramona stated. “The kids took it hard. They thought I should get out, but it was hard going from being out in the country with so much space, to living in a shelter.” She credits the staff at Sheltering Wings and old friends from her community with helping to make the transition easier. Her oldest daughter finished her last semester of high school. With the help of tutors and friends from back home. The high school principal there, along with local law enforcement added extra security measures in order for her to participate in the commencement ceremony. Ramona and her children spent about two and a half years at Sheltering Wings. A time that changed her life forever. At first, she did have limited contact with her ex-husband. “Every time I talked to him it would bring me down more,” she said. “The last time I talked to him, I told him I didn’t want him to hurt me or the kids anymore.”With that chapter closed, Ramona vowed to change her future.
With her children adjusted and doing well she decided it was time for a little self-improvement. “When I came to the shelter I didn’t have a driver’s license,” Ramona said. Not only did she get a license while in the shelter, she also went from having an eighth grade education to completing her GED with honors. She also learned how to use a computer and is Microsoft certified. And she’s not finished, she plans to continue her education in computer technology and become an administrative assistant. Ramona and her two youngest children have since moved into their own apartment and she works as an advocate at Sheltering Wings. She has discovered that her passion lies in helping others and she wants to continue to work in a shelter and help other women like herself. ,“They just gave me so much.” Ramona says that generosity, along with the influence of her case manager have had huge impacts on her life. She is no longer a victim.Download the Fall 2011 Newsletter