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 married to a man that was 20 years older than I was and thought that he would take really good care of me and my daughter, but then after we got married, he started abusing and controlling me and keeping me away from my family by keeping me in other states.
What made you choose The Julian Center?
Once when my sister and I were riding with my husband, he was drinking heavily as always and he and my sister got into an argument. He wanted to put her out on the dark highway, so I got out with her. A state trooper found us and took us to a shelter in Ohio, and they explained to me that there was a shelter in Indianapolis that was also for abused women and children. This was when the shelter was in Haughville, so once me and my sister returned to Indianapolis, I contacted the shelter and was accepted into the shelter.
Had you sought help before to leave your situation? If so, why do you think this time was different?
No, I never knew about shelters for battered women because my mom never went to one.
What were you expecting when you arrived at The Julian Center? How was your experience compared to your expectations?
Safety for me and my daughter. I was scared when I first arrived at the shelter because I didn’t know what to expect. It was kind of late when my daughter and I got to the shelter so most everyone was already in their rooms. The next day when I went downstairs, we ate breakfast, and they had my daughter go to the playroom so that I could finish up the intake. I started feeling more at ease and safe.
Were there any specific programs at The Julian Center you feel helped you?
Yes, the group counseling and listening to other people’s stories. I no longer felt like I was the only one going through abuse. Everyone was nice and accepting of me and my daughter and my daughter loved the playroom (she was 3 years old at the time). To this day she still talks about Colleen who was over the playroom at that time.
What was daily life like living in the Shelter?
Mostly trying to figure out my next step by talking with my advocate and talking with the other women. We had chores during the day which was fine — they kind of took my mind off what I was thinking about being in a situation like that in the first place.
Tell us about your life after leaving The Julian Center.
I went back and forth to that ex-husband at least 7 times before I finally left him for good in Pittsburgh, PA. I went through two abusive relationships. Now my life is truly blessed. God made sure that I never had to run scared again. I now own my own home, have been blessed to be on my job for 23 years, and I am loving life to the fullest.
What advice would you give to other survivors who are currently living in abusive situations?
Get out because it doesn’t get better like the abuser promises! It only gets worse.
Is there anything else you would like to add?
I have learned to love myself fully and know what I will no longer accept into my life.