Imagine yourself a young woman with a six month old baby being escorted by police into a shelter just after midnight. Your family in a different country; you are alone with no one to reach out to. Knowing very little English, you struggle to understand the information, but you sense the kindness and compassion of the shelter staff as they prepare your room and offer milk for your daughter.
Sadly, these are very real memories for Hida. So many times she had been told that she would not be able to take care of herself, that she was there to serve her husband, and that she had nothing to offer apart from him. When he would come home drunk at two a.m. she was expected to be dressed with makeup on, cook for him, and be intimate with him. Night after night, he would become violent if his expectations were not met. Hida recalls, “In the beginning I forced myself. But as time passed by it was getting worse. I hated myself. It just felt dark inside; just getting darker and darker. You feel like you are in a place with just the walls and no one can talk to you. I didn’t want my
daughter to grow up in that.”
During her pregnancy and after the birth of her daughter, Rona, nothing had changed despite his promises. He became even more angry that Hida was caring for their daughter more than him. One afternoon, enraged, he took out a knife while she was holding Rona in her arms. She set Rona down to protect her and fend off her husband’s attack. In a moment she remembers with tears, she ran from the apartment in order to survive. Hailing a cab, Hida was taken to the police department. Her husband was arrested and she was able to get Rona back. The police told her “there was a place; a shelter with moms and kids” where she could be safe.
The Crisis Center welcomed Hida and Rona with open arms.
Hida took advantage of all of the services the Crisis Center had to offer. She stayed in the residential shelter where she learned English, how to care for her infant daughter, and was able to secure a job and a driver’s license. She diligently worked to develop new opportunities for her family. When a transitional program apartment became available, Hida was selected, continuing to progress toward full independence.
Through counseling Hida was also able to process her experiences and create a new vision of herself and her future. Old ways of thinking were replaced with empowered and positive beliefs. She felt like she was “becoming a normal woman again; being able to think and take care of my daughter again.” She found new ways to express herself and to teach her daughter a new set of values.
For Hida and Rona, the shelter became a home; a second family. She smiles thinking about it. “I don’t see it as a shelter anymore. I see it as a home; a safe home that helps you. Someone [at Crisis Center] will be here for you. They are willing to do whatever it takes to keep you safe. They will help you with everything; an education, a home, everything you need. They will help you, but you have to be willing to work. You have to stick in the program. As long as you are willing you can make it,” she says.
Hida’s hard work has paid off. She works at a bank providing for her family. They have a safe and peaceful life. In reflecting back, she acknowledges, “In the beginning it wasn’t easy for me…but I see it as a light when you are strong. Everyone has that inside of them. You just have to find it…and make it work.” She continues, “ I became a woman, way stronger, just by being here. …If it wasn’t for here, I probably wouldn’t be alive, you know, if it wasn’t for me to decide to come here that day and for this place that opened the door for me. They saved my life and my daughter’s life. Seeing her growing every day and smiling at her; there are no words to thank the Crisis Center, the staff here, for what they did for me. Because of [the Crisis Center], this place walked me through. I started my whole new life here…and it’s going the right way.”