House of Ruth

Betty’s Story

Betty’s Story

Betty* is a 50-year-old woman who came to the Domestic Violence Support Center (DVSC) after being referred by the courts due to the physical abuse she experienced at the hands of an intimate partner. Betty’s DVSC counselor provided emotional support and a non-judgmental space for Betty to begin to explore her experiences of abuse in the relationship, and make a decision as to how to proceed. Through their sessions, Betty and her DVSC counselor began to explore patterns in her life and relationships, beginning from childhood, which had kept Betty in abusive relationships.

Thanks to these sessions, Betty was able to leave her abusive relationship and work towards stabilizing her life. She and her DVSC counselor continue to work together to help Betty increase her ability to notice red flags in relationships and practice setting boundaries with people in her life. Betty’s increased insight into her own patterns has allowed her to begin to navigate her life in a way that keeps her safe from potentially abusive individuals.

*Name has been changed

Lorena’s Story

31-year-old Lorena* initially came to the Domestic Violence Support Center (DVSC) to work through a family crisis. After working consistently with her counselor and addressing her initial crisis and related distress, Lorena was able to use her counseling to look at much longer-standing issues that had afflicted her over her life, such as using overeating and working long hours to suppress strong emotions.

Now much more able to “sit with her feelings” rather than suppress them, Lorena has repeatedly expressed her gratitude for “finally getting the help I’ve needed all along.”

*Name has been changed.

Wren’s Story

Wren* and her son is a survivor of domestic violence and homelessness. She has found safety and steady support in House of Ruth’s transitional housing.

Wren is coping with anxiety and trauma. Her son’s father was recently murdered, and she does not have a lot of support from her family. Thanks to you, she and her son have found a safe place to be at House of Ruth. Our staff is here to encourage Wren and to connect her to the resources she needs to move forward.

Wren has concrete, attainable dreams for herself and her son, and she is committed to reaching her goals. She already has a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Criminal Justice, and her ultimate goal is to become an attorney. When she first arrived at House of Ruth, she quickly secured a job at a local store, and worked there while applying and interviewing at several law firms. Her efforts paid off, as she was hired as a legal assistant at a law firm in D.C. House of Ruth referred her to a partner agency where she received a wardrobe of professional clothing for her new position.

Our staff also connected Wren to outpatient counseling at House of Ruth’s Domestic Violence Support Center, where she is getting expert help in healing from trauma and addressing the anxiety she experiences. As she is able to prioritize her wellness, she knows her young son will benefit as well. Wren has enrolled him at House of Ruth’s Kidspace program, so he is now receiving enriching, trauma-informed childcare on a daily basis.

Wren is young and has her whole future ahead of her. Your generosity is enabling her to create a solid foundation for the future, and will make a long-term difference in her life and her son’s life. Thank you for being there for them and for so many survivors of domestic violence.

*Name has been changed.

Simone’s Story

Simone*, 42 years old and a mother of three children, was referred to the DVSC for therapy as required by a judge in her child custody case. A survivor of extreme physical and sexual abuse as a child and young adult, Simone never before in her life had any consistent mental health treatment. During the pandemic, the DVSC offered her counseling services over the internet, through a telehealth platform. Perhaps as a result of this new technology and the DVSC’s willingness to be flexible with a very vulnerable client, Simone has experienced by far the strongest and most consistent therapy relationship of her life and has maintained good mental health throughout a very stressful time in her life.

*Name has been changed.

Natalie’s Story

45-year-old Natalie* came to the Domestic Violence Support Center (DVSC) to address post-traumatic stress in the aftermath of a highly abusive marriage. Over the course of her therapy, she was able to not only reduce her trauma symptoms according to assessment tools used by the DVSC, but she also began to address longer-standing issues that made her vulnerable to entering relationships with violent men.

Today, Natalie is feeling much more confident about herself, her life, and the prospect of enjoying positive future relationships.

*Name has been changed.

Alexi’s Story

27-year-old Alexi* was referred to the Domestic Violence Support Center (DVSC) by DC Child and Family Services Agency (CFSA) after her four children were removed from her care. Alexi reported at intake that her children were removed following an incident where her 18 month-old daughter’s father physically disciplined her daughter, injuring her, and then kidnapped her daughter to avoid detection.

Alexi acknowledged the extremely traumatic nature of this for both herself and her children but stated, ‘that’s really only one part of it’. Alexi reported that she looked forward to participating in counseling and ‘telling her whole story’. Although court ordered, Alexi embraced counseling as an opportunity to unpack and process a lifetime of trauma, and identified for herself the goals of moving forward in a different way and ending intergenerational patterns of poverty, and abuse, regardless of whether or not she is able to reunify with her children.

*Name has been changed.

Jayda’s Story

Jayda* is a mom who has two children attending House of Ruth’s Kidspace Child and Family Development Center. She is expecting, and is looking forward to enrolling her third child as well. Jayda has been through many challenges and traumas, and Kidspace has been an important constant in Jayda and her children’s lives.

Jayda says, “Kidspace has been great to my family. Being a single mother is not always easy, but having the support from my Kidspace family has been a tremendous help. They help provide my kids with food, milk, diapers, wipes, bibs, and more.”

Jayda has formed strong relationships with Kidspace staff and with other Kidspace parents. She is a very active, loving, and supportive parent. She is a good advocate and will speak up about shared concerns from fellow parents. She utilizes the resources available at Kidspace — seeking out advice on how best to support her children’s development, and willingly connecting to resources to help improve her own well-being.

When Jayda has a question or a concern, she reaches out to our Family Engagement Specialist. She is open to parenting advice and she effectively implements newly learned parenting techniques at home. At one point, Jayda had some concerns about her daughter’s ability to manage emotions and express herself. Jayda now says Kidspace was instrumental in helping her daughter communicate more using words. Our staff sees her children thriving, and we are proud to partner with Jayda on her parenting journey.

Our staff is here for Jayda in many ways. When she went through a domestic violence situation, we were able to connect her to House of Ruth’s Domestic Violence Support Center to receive counseling. As her family expands, we are working with her to try to find a living space that will meet her family’s needs. She recently lost her job at a social service agency due to the ongoing effects of the pandemic, and has just begun receiving unemployment checks. After she recovers from the birth of her third child, we will be there to provide encouragement and support as Jayda looks to secure a new position.

*Name has been changed.

Cheri’s Story

65-year-old Cheri* came to House of Ruth’s Domestic Violence Support Center (DVSC) searching for help after ending an emotionally abusive relationship. Cheri found herself continuing to experience symptoms that were a result of prolonged intimidation and gaslighting.

Cheri was able to work with her DVSC counselor to process different aspects of her relationship and work toward minimizing symptoms she had been experiencing by strengthening her connection with her faith and gaining an increased understanding of the cycle of domestic violence. Cheri and her counselor also worked to increase Cheri’s awareness of how childhood neglect and trauma have played a role in her adult relationships.

Cheri continues to use her sessions with her DVSC counselor to gain a greater understanding of herself and make life changes based on this increased insight. Cheri hopes to be a help to other women who have gone through domestic violence by using her own experience to be an advocate for others.

*Name has been changed.

Susie’s Story

37-year-old Susie* first came to the Domestic Violence Support Center (DVSC) with the goal of gaining a greater understanding of the effects of domestic violence in her life. Susie had fled her home with her 4-year-old daughter after enduring physical, emotional, and financial abuse at the hands of her husband.

Susie has worked closely with her DVSC counselor to better understand the signs and cycles of intimate partner violence. Using psychoeducation and a nonjudgmental stance, her DVSC counselor has helped Susie construct a narrative of her abuse and regain ownership of her story. Susie continues to use her sessions at the DVSC to explore her hopes for the future and desire to be a leader in her community.

*Name has been changed.

Terri’s Story

Terri* came to the Domestic Violence Support Center (DVSC) after more than 20 years in an abusive relationship with the father of her three children. As a 47-year-old mother of three, Terri sought to better understand her experience and figure out a healthy way to move forward with her children. Counseling at the DVSC has helped provide Terri with the space to come to a decision about what was best for her well-being and that of her children.

After months of work with her DVSC counselor, during which they worked together to process Terri’s thoughts and emotions surrounding her relationship, Terri decided to separate from her husband. With her counselor’s support, Terri continues to gain confidence in her decision-making skills, is able to prioritize her own wellness, and is working toward creating a safe space for herself and her children to thrive.

*Name has been changed.