My mother and I stayed in the Safe House when I was 10. That was over twelve years ago but I remember it like it was yesterday. She gathered up the courage to leave and we escaped our abuse once and for all. With a few belongings stuffed into suitcases and a large black trash bag of clothes, we fled. I was too young then to know all of the horrors of Mom’s life; as she did a good job protecting me from most, but not all of the violence. There were nights when I thought the screaming would never end and other nights when the silence was just too still. Fighting…arguments…hiding…her bandages. There was a darkness in our home, but mom and 180 changed all of that for me.
As I got older I learned that mom had spoken to 180 Court Advocates down at the Monmouth County Courthouse and she was able to obtain a restraining order. Meanwhile, 180’s emergency shelter kept us safe until mom found a better job and a place for us to live. As a child, I tackled the changes and challenges in our life by talking to 180 counselors. Also, mom and I took part in weekly creative arts therapy sessions for almost a year with the nicest and most caring staff. Little did I know then that this was 180’s Amanda’s Easel Creative Arts Therapy Program. The therapy helped me to cope with the changes in my family and the violence I had witnessed in our former home.
180 saved me. I’m not sure where mom and I would be now if it were not for 180. We never lost hope and 180 gave us the tools we needed to start anew. We continue to be optimistic about our future. Although 180 is part of our past, we will never forget…we carry them with us wherever we go.
*names are changed to protect our survivors.