68-year-old Lydia* is a long-term client of House of Ruth’s Domestic Violence Support Center (DVSC). Over the course of her life, Lydia has experienced physical, emotional, and sexual abuse, has suffered a gunshot wound, struggled with drug addiction and mental illness, and at several points has been homeless.
Lydia came to the DVSC when she was in a residential drug treatment recovery program. In collaboration with the DVSC, this recovery program allows residents to leave the premises to engage in counseling services at the DVSC as their discharge date approaches, with the hope that this will facilitate their transition to independent living, and increase the likelihood that they will engage in therapeutic services even after they are discharged.
Lydia is a success story on all counts, having fully transitioned to her own apartment, and maintained her sobriety and attended counseling for nearly eight years. Not all DVSC clients stay engaged in services this long, but for Lydia, she will tell you: “I am just now beginning to get a handle on how my childhood abuse affected me. I am just now beginning to understand myself.”
Lydia proudly tells anyone who will listen that she sees her therapist weekly and that “I see my therapist even in a pandemic.” Privately, she tells her counselor that “you’re the only one I see sometimes” and that no one else checks in with her. Because of her myriad of health issues, Lydia and her DVSC counselor have had to get creative in recent months, sometimes meeting in a private corner outside on the grounds of her apartment complex, and when the weather got colder, they transitioned to telehealth services.
For Lydia, the connection with the DVSC is invaluable, even life-saving. And for her DVSC counselor, it has been the honor of a lifetime to witness such transformation and dedication to healing from someone who could have easily succumbed to a lifetime of trauma.
*Name has been changed.