Saratoga Today reporter, Tom Dimopoulos, and I spoke recently about Wellspring’s work. Throughout our conversation I talked about our emphasis on prevention and early intervention. Our best hope for the future is that our shelter is empty and our hotline never rings… because we’ve ended relationship and sexual abuse. We’re on the path, but we’re not there yet. Our hotline answers ~1,400 calls each year, our shelter is almost always full, and our counselors see a steady stream of men and women who have experienced abuse.
Dimopolous wrote about his conversation with, Tina, a domestic violence survivor who had utilized Wellspring’s services. Her story echoed the words we hear so often from survivors:
- Tina endured decades of abuse before seeking help
- Financial instability prevented Tina from leaving and her partner’s economic abuse threatened her custody of her children.
- Tina kept hoping that if she tried harder the abuse would end, “It took me a long time to realize I couldn’t fix him, that my love couldn’t carry it through.”
- Remaining in the abuse, Tina felt hopeless and desperate, “The psychological effect…spun me into a dark, life-threatening world of depression. I was in a state of turmoil and didn’t know what to do.”
By chance Tina happened upon Wellspring, called and began to forge a new life without abuse, “Immediately I felt there was a glimmer of hope.”
So many people wait to seek help until a crisis forces action. Why?
- Sometimes they don’t identify what they are experiencing as domestic violence, especially if they are not physically abused. Emotional abuse, financial control, social isolation and sexual coercion are all forms of domestic violence.
- Often they love the person, don’t want to leave him/her… they just want the abuse to end. They think if they try harder it will stop. Domestic violence is a pattern of power and control… the behaviors are a choice the abuser makes.
- They see so many obstacles that they can’t even contemplate leaving. Wellspring offers a range of support services, e.g., emergency shelter, legal advocacy, subsidized housing, and employment assistance. Talk to us about your concerns; like Tina, you too may immediately feel a glimmer of hope for the first time.
Tina’s story of hope, healing and transcendence is inspiring… but I also hear such regret that she endured 22 years of abuse, before seeking the help where she can now say, “Wellspring gave me a new lease on life and I’m going to take full advantage of it…I don’t take for granted one minute of my life.”
I’m so grateful that she’s reached a point where she has power and joy in every minute of her life. I regret that she endured 22 years of abuse– that’s more than 11 million minutes of her life overshadowed by domestic violence- before she found the support to help her escape.
If you or someone you know is experiencing relationship or sexual abuse, call Wellspring. Cherish every minute of your life.