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Survivor Stories: Charlotte’s Story

Alexander Dummer UH

After enduring more than six years of physical, verbal, financial and emotional domestic violence, Charlotte took the first step in her healing journey by entering Human Option’s Emergency Shelter with her two children, Sara and Evan, who were only one and three years old. The last physical aggression by her partner happened in front of her children and that gave her the strength to call law enforcement. Sara, at only 3 years old, told the officer with tears in her eyes that “daddy was being very mean to mommy, broke her phone, yelled too loud and needed to go away”. High levels of stress, anxiety and worry led Charlotte to seek comprehensive care and learn about resources available to her and her children.  When Charlotte came into the emergency shelter, she found herself unemployed, working hard to maintain sobriety, unable to control anxiety attacks and unaware of the effects of domestic violence.  She often felt like an unfit mother due to the many needs of her children. In the 30 days that Charlotte and her family were at the emergency shelter, she worked with staff to safety plan and mapped out the steps she needed to live free from violence. Charlotte faced her fears and requested a restraining order, began attending empowerment and parenting classes, worked with the children’s program to improve her parenting skills, and applied to financial resources.  Although the process was tough and included multiple setbacks, she never gave up and asked to be considered for Human Option’s transitional program, Second Step. She expressed she needed more time to continue her journey and was confident the support she was receiving at Human Options was having a life-changing impact on her family. In only two months of being at Second Step, Charlotte was able to secure a restraining order, job and child care. Those achievements empowered Charlotte to have confidence in her ability to protect, care and provide for her children. Her body language changed drastically along with her kid’s behavior. While at Second Step, Charlotte also maintained her sobriety and fulfilled her biggest goal to secure permanent housing. Before leaving Second Step, Charlotte addressed her peers and shared her story so that they too felt empowered. She left by sharing that the negative thoughts and verbal abuse she suffered for many years were slowly transforming into a phrase that her case manager often shared and now lives by: “my past does not define my future” and feels like there isn’t anything she can’t overcome. Charlotte, Sara and Evan have moved into a safe home where they will build strong family bonds and continue their healing journey.  


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