House of Ruth

Maize’s Story

Maize’s Story

Maize* came to House of Ruth’s transitional housing early last summer.  She had just left a halfway house after serving eight years in a federal penitentiary.  Maize feels her time in prison helped save her – from drugs, from prostitution, from trafficking…from a life that is so different from her present and her future.  Maize has dreams, and she has used her time at House of Ruth to help make those dreams a reality.

Maize says her case manager “just keeps it really real with me, and keeps me on the up and up.”  She has helped Maize navigate life in transitional housing at House of Ruth, always providing encouragement while Maize stays focused on her own goals and tunes out distractions that could affect her sobriety.  Maize says she is not “tech savy,” so it was very helpful to have her case manager assist her with accessing benefits, like Medicaid and food stamps.  They also worked together to create and implement a plan for Maize to build her credit, and explored next steps for housing options.

Maize says House of Ruth provided her with the housing and support she needed at a critical time in her life.  Maize has received a rapid rehousing voucher and will move into her own apartment in less than a month. She is ready.  Maize started working at a major pet retail store right after re-entering society, and has continued her employment while living at House of Ruth.  She also enrolled in a dog training course, and was recently promoted to dog trainer.  She is thrilled to be moving forward on this career path, a field that she is truly passionate about.

As she looks to the future, Maize says she is most excited about starting a new life for herself.   She says her mindset is different now – she is sure of where she is and where she wants to go in life.

*Name has been changed.

Nina’s Story

68-year-old Nina* was referred to the Domestic Violence Support Center (DVSC) from a partner agency following several losses in her life. Nina came to therapy seeking support around setting better boundaries, conflict resolution, and achieving balance in her life.

Through her work at the DVSC, Nina has been able to gain insight into how previous traumatic experiences have made it difficult for her to prioritize her own needs. Over time, Nina has reported that she has been better able to set limits and communicate her needs with others.

Nina shares that she now has more energy to invest in herself and the things that bring her happiness. As a result, Nina reports experiencing an overall improvement in her psychological well-being and a peace of mind.

*Name has been changed.

Candyce’s Story

34-year-old Candyce* was referred to the Domestic Violence Support Center (DVSC) by one of her friends who was already a DVSC client.  Candyce’s friend, Mona,* has struggled with serious mental health issues her whole life, has experienced a wide range of interpersonal traumas, and has met with a variety of therapists over the years. When Mona recommended the DVSC to Candyce, who had never been in counseling, she began to really consider the option.

Candyce had always managed to push down her negative life experiences, so she thought those experiences couldn’t really impact her.  However, Mona could see that Candyce was still struggling with her past. Mona’s positive experience with the DVSC helped Candyce finally decide to give therapy a try. Candyce was initially nervous about coming to the DVSC and sharing her story with the intake counselor; but afterwards, she reported feeling unburdened and hopeful about moving past her own traumas.

*Names have been changed.

Aida’s Story

For two years, Aida* and her daughter have lived in House of Ruth’s permanent supportive housing for mothers and children who have escaped domestic violence and are experiencing mental health challenges.

Our staff is so proud of Aida. She is in recovery from substance abuse and has maintained her sobriety for two years. This alone is a tremendous accomplishment. Since coming to House of Ruth, she has continuously done all the right things to take care of herself and her daughter, and to rebuild their lives. Through House of Ruth, Aida found the environment she needed — a safe environment with supportive accountability that has empowered her to be her best self.

While at House of Ruth, Aida has attended therapy and remains committed to taking her medication. With support, Aida is healing from trauma. Aida has re-established her connection with her daughter, who is now in her custody. She has continuously been employed, and she is working to expunge her record. Aida is moving her life forward in the most positive ways, and the staff at House of Ruth is cheering her on.

*Name has been changed.

Rita’s Story

Just six months ago, Rita* was a resident of A New Start, one of House of Ruth’s scattered site programs for women who are survivors of domestic violence. In our scattered site programming, clients receive rental assistance at a level based on their income, as well as case management, group counseling, and life skills support.

Rita formed a strong relationship with her case manager, and she was empowered to take advantage of all the resources available to her through House of Ruth. Rita found the space to begin healing from trauma through one-on-one counseling at our Domestic Violence Support Center. Counseling helped her to cope with feelings of grief, loss, and depression. She also actively participated in psychoeducational groups on domestic violence. Rita learned more about developing healthy boundaries and the dynamics of healthy relationships. She is continuing to live a life that is free from domestic violence, and she has developed a healthy support system for herself.

When Rita arrived at House of Ruth she did not have a job, but her main goal was to take over the lease of the apartment unit she moved into, and to become financially independent.

Rita is in her sixties, and although she was out of the workforce for a long time, she hit the ground running. Staff assisted Rita with building her confidence through resume writing and practicing interview skills. We referred her to a federal agency that had a job opening, and Rita’s preparation paid off. She was hired!

Rita continuously worked hard and saved her money. She also attended our financial literacy trainings and received debt remediation support. Staff coached Rita on developing a good rapport with the landlord, and today she is proactively and effectively advocating for herself as a tenant.

Rita achieved her goal! She took over the lease of her apartment, and by the time she exited our program six months ago, she had saved $4,000.

We are so proud of Rita for believing in herself and putting her goals into action to reclaim her life.

*Name has been changed.

Gemma’s Story

Gemma* has had many challenges to overcome — years of homelessness and sleeping on the street, a period of incarceration, a need for substance abuse treatment, living far away from home as an immigrant, and the need for official documentation. Through her own perseverance and the support available to her at House of Ruth, she is now overcoming these challenges.

In the two years Gemma has been living in House of Ruth’s housing, she has taken so many important steps forward toward building an independent, successful future for herself. Gemma has obtained a visa, her birth certificate, a social security card, and a DC ID. She has completed treatment for substance abuse. She also completed a job readiness program through the Department of Employment Services, which eventually led her to full-time employment at a company that provides commercial cleaning services. Gemma has started saving money and our staff Housing Specialist is working with her to identify affordable housing.

Gemma says that being accepted into House of Ruth’s housing gave her hope. In these safe surroundings, she no longer has to focus on protecting herself. She has finally had the chance to take a deep breath and take care of herself. She attends a regular counseling group on coping with trauma. She says before she never felt like she had someone to depend on or the help she really needed to obtain her documentation. With so many positive steps in place, Gemma says now she feels like she “has a breath of fresh air” in her life.

Gemma is a strong woman who has successfully drawn on the support available to her at House of Ruth to reclaim her life. House of Ruth has been there to provide Gemma with the stable housing, case management, and counseling support she needed to truly move forward in her life.

*Name has been changed.

Lydia’s Story

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.

Cara and Heather’s Story

Cara* came to know about House of Ruth through our Kidspace developmental childcare center. She brought her daughter Heather* to Kidspace when she was just six months old. Through Kidspace, Cara attended a group offered to parents on the dynamics of domestic violence. This experience led Cara to recognize the controlling nature of her partner, and she realized she wanted to leave the relationship.

Our Kidspace staff connected Cara to our Bridges program, where she was able to move into an apartment in the community, to receive income-based rental assistance, and to benefit from supportive services. At that time Cara began attending individual counseling at our Domestic Violence Support Center. With support and encouragement, she is able to successfully co-parent with her daughter’s father. She manages their interactions without being manipulated or controlled, and always prioritizes her daughter’s best interests.

Cara is fiercely committed to her autonomy, and to her daughter. She has graduated from our Bridges program and is fully independent. She successfully maintained employment throughout the pandemic. She is now saving money with the goal of eventually purchasing her own home with the assistance of a first-time homebuyer’s program.

Today, Heather is in the pre-K class at Kidspace and doing so well. She is a very outgoing, playful little girl with wonderful language skills. Cara is a very vocal parent who actively partners with Kidspace staff to facilitate her daughter’s positive growth and development. When a teacher recommended Heather receive an evaluation for occupational therapy, Cara readily gave permission and trusted in the expertise of our staff. She seeks out advice and support on an ongoing basis, and she always advocates for Heather’s needs.

Cara says she feels like the support she has received has really helped her to be resilient, and she feels like she wouldn’t be where she is now without Kidspace and House of Ruth. She always tells people that Heather’s school is the best! We are so proud to support Cara and Heather’s success.

*Names have been changed.

Naomi’s Story

50-year-old Naomi* came to House of Ruth’s Domestic Violence Support Center (DVSC) for help related to her abusive marriage. Naomi was a mother of three adolescent children, and had been married to a highly verbally abusive and controlling man for her entire adult life. While she had been seen by a number of therapists over the years and regarded them as helpful, she described those experiences as being conducted under the influence of her husband, who she says often attended her sessions and consulted with her therapists without her consent.

In counseling at the DVSC, Naomi stated that for the first time, she began to experience her own voice, to improve her self-esteem, and feel more empowered about her life. Over the course of the year-long therapy, she hired an attorney and divorced her husband, moved out on her own for the first time in her life, and landed her dream job at a university.

At the end of nearly every session she would express gratitude for the therapy, emphasizing frequently that “therapy has just been so grounding for me…it soothes me.”

*Name has been changed.

Kristina’s Story

Before they came to House of Ruth, Kristina* and her two daughters were homeless and living in a shelter in a hotel in D.C. They had a long commute from the shelter to the girls’ school. Kristina’s abuser kept showing up during the commute and threatening them. Kristina would contact the police and let them know she had a restraining order, but he kept appearing. The danger and fear continued until they came to House of Ruth.

Kristina says she can’t even begin to explain all the blessings she and her girls have received at House of Ruth. House of Ruth has been there to lift Kristina and her girls up — to give them a safe place to land, while helping them realize new possibilities for their future.

Two years ago, Kristina and her daughters moved into our permanent supportive housing for survivors of domestic violence. With newfound security and a true support system through House of Ruth’s staff, Kristina was able to ground herself and begin to pursue education and training that will set her up for long-term independence. As of today, Kristina has already earned a medical assistant certification and a medical office administration certification, and she is finishing up the requirements to earn an electronic medical records certification. She is proud of these significant accomplishments and is looking forward to beginning a career in the healthcare industry.

Both of Kristina’s daughters are now thriving. Her oldest daughter Mia* is a senior in high school. She is a thoughtful, accomplished young woman who recently wrote an excellent essay on the struggles and challenges of going through homelessness while in school. Mia has a strong grade point average, and her hard work has truly paid off. She was accepted into eight different colleges, and recently made the decision to attend a local university.

Kristina says House of Ruth has helped me “be able to be the best me that I can be for myself and for my children.” Going back to school was never an option for her before. She and her girls went from being terrified daily to feeling safe and secure. Unlike their previous temporary shelter in a hotel room, the apartment at House of Ruth gave them a space to live normally and create a home. Kristina says “being able to live, and to live safely, has just been awesome.” She says the support system they have now through House of Ruth makes her feel like the sky is the limit.

There is so much to be excited about and look forward to as Mia approaches her high school graduation and makes plans for college. We are proud to help Kristina and her daughters find the safety and support they needed to heal from trauma and take steps toward a beautiful new future.

*Names have been changed.