Each year, thousands of people escaping domestic abuse, sexual abuse, and other life crises find safety and hope at The Julian Center. While each person comes to us with a unique situation, our mission remains the same: to help victims of domestic abuse become survivors through supportive services, education, and cooperative partnerships that foster hope, promote self-sufficiency, and rebuild lives.
Below one survivor shares her story of her path from victim to prospering survivor with help from The Julian Center.
- Can you tell us about what was happening in your life that led you to The Julian Center?
I was in a domestic violence relationship for a total of five years. I was engaged and was four months pregnant at the time. I was that woman that was going back and forth to the shelter for over a year. I was in love and didn’t know anything else but him. But one day I was forced to change my life. So, I walked out of a friend’s house that he and I were staying at, and there was a cab waiting on me from The Julian Center at the next corner. Walking away was the hardest but the best thing I ever did. All I could hear in the back as I was walking away was “this will be the best thing you can ever do for yourself.” Yes, I was crying non-stop because we all know change is hard.
But it can be for the best, right?
- What made you choose The Julian Center?
When my son was born, I was in a DCS case at the time. This place was the best option with many resources to help me with a protective order and a safe place for visitation with my newborn son. I felt comfortable and met a lot of amazing people there. I also gained a job working at Walmart on 3rd shift, and boyyyyy I’m telling you, I was tired. But I had to do what was best for me and my child. I would literally fall asleep on the bus after work, walk miles a day and have my visit with my son the same morning on a daily basis at the Shelter. The Julian Center led me to resources to help me get my son back from DCS. From there, I found a domestic violence shelter called Quest for Excellence, and this is where the fun begins.
- Had you sought help before to leave your situation? If so, why do you think this time was different?
Yes, I’d fought through this relationship for many years. I was naive of the situation and didn’t actually see what was happening because I was so blinded with love. I knew from there with my son being born and losing my kids to DCS that I had to do something and something now before it’s too late because my kids needed me as much as I needed them for support and motivation.
- What were you expecting when you arrived at The Julian Center?
How was your experience compared to your expectations?When I arrived at the Shelter, I knew what I was getting into. I’d done my research, and I just needed a safe place to run off to. I liked that they had an art class. I am an artist so I was in close contact with the person that led that class. It was called Art Therapy. My experience there was above and beyond. They had good food, and the place was clean. They are also very patient. I also liked the computer lab and the outside sitting area.
- Were there any specific programs at The Julian Center you feel helped you?
Quest for Excellence domestic violence shelter. It’s not called that anymore, but I’ve been living here for six-plus years now, and I feel very comfortable and safe living here. Just last year I moved into an all brand-new apartment thanks to the new owner I think I’m the only one that still lives here that came from The Julian Center. The apartment complex now is run by Athena Real Estate. Quest for Excellence basically provided me with a living arrangement to help me get my son back. After two years of going through classes with DCS and living here, my case with DCS was closed and he came home.
- What was daily life like living in the Shelter?
Life was an everlasting changing experience. I’ve learned to become strong and independent. I learned to love myself and learned it’s okay to ask for help. I went back and forth to work every day and walked to my visitations and drug screens that I had to do for DCS. It was my life, but I had fun even though I was mentally exhausted. I’ve made it. What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger was my mood. The day I left [The Julian Center] I remember walking down the hallway with that big gray bin, and the ladies in the hallway, I could hear, “looks like someone is leaving today.” I said, “Yeah, I’m my exhausted but motivated to move on.”
- Tell us about your life after leaving The Julian Center.
My life is awesome. It’s peaceful. With a new apartment, a closed DCS case, and my family back in my life, I couldn’t ask for more. I’ve decided to put myself through college, and I’m a junior at the moment going for my bachelor’s degree in interior design. I also gained five new best friends. I call them my extended family – my son’s foster family. Even though I’ve beat my DCS case, we all still keep in communication. I’ve also learned to love yourself first so you can know what type of love you deserve. All of this took at least five years to get in my comfort zone. Yes, it was a lot, but, hey I did it! You can do anything if you put your mind to it.
- What advice would you give to other survivors who are currently living in abusive situations?
Don’t be afraid to walk away. If it hurts, it’s not love. Love is not supposed to hurt mentally, physically, or emotionally. Change is for the better. Yes, everyone’s situation is different, but if it’s any type of abuse, do what’s best for your current situation and walk away. Better yet, just run. Time heals all wounds.
- Is there anything else you would like to add?
My name is Melinda Baker, and this is my story. If I can do it, you can do it too. I’ve made the impossible possible.