House of Ruth

Jayda’s Story

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.

Reema’s Story

Reema* and her sons live in House of Ruth’s Families First program, which provides supportive housing for mothers who are survivors of domestic violence and their children.

Since Reema has been at Families First, she has received the support she needs to stay focused, to deal with difficult emotions, and to make tremendous progress on her goals. She is putting in the work to recover from painful experiences, and build a wonderful, positive future for herself and her boys.

Reema says she knows she can be very emotional, and it has been so helpful to her to have access to the case managers and life skills trainers at Families First to talk through what is going on in her life. Our expert, compassionate staff is here to help Reema stay solution-focused and find practical answers to the challenges she experiences.

In the two years she has been at Families First, Reema has cleaned up her credit, obtained new certifications for her job, completed college-level coursework, and started saving money for her own apartment.

Reema works as a unit support staff member in a local hospital, and is a registered behavioral technician. She plans to go into social work, and is attending a local university to make that dream a reality.

Reema is very focused on saving money, and her goal is to save enough to move into her own apartment by this August. She plans to find an apartment near her sons’ school, her job, and her own school as well. She is setting herself up for long-term success.

Reema says it has been wonderful to take advantage of the parenting support at Families First. Her boys attend a children’s group every week, and she participates in parenting groups that provide tips on how to be a more proficient parent. She feels like her boys have a new mom as a result. She is more focused on them, and is always thinking about how things will affect them. She says the support she has received in this area has been key to their thriving as a family.

*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.

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.

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.