My focus on domestic violence is mainly because my life was almost lost to it 6 1/2 years ago, so I have first-hand knowledge of the effects it can have on someone.
The night I left my abuser, he had fallen asleep holding a tire iron. I had no doubt that, once he woke up, he would have beaten me to death with it. And so I tip-toed out of the house and out to my car, where I had stashed a packed bag in the trunk.
If I had not had a car, I don’t know what I would have done. I had actually asked 2 people for help leaving (in the form of “come get me”) but both of them let me down. They ignored my pleas and I was on my own. Now the car is gone, due to a catastrophic engine failure, and I find myself in a different kind of dire situation due to lack of one – being able to move closer to one of my kids so they can help me in an emergency.
Very soon after, I found the apartment I still live in today, and I was able to get the 2 kittens away from my abuser by “trading” them for the computer I had left behind (the kitties have been living with me happily ever since).
The nightmares have stopped. I feel safe in my home. I am ok. Kitties are happy and healthy.
But I have always thought about other people who have gone – or are going through – the same kind of abuse I did, and how there are still not many services around for them. I think about how I would run a shelter – one that included pets and also adult children with disabilities – that could really address this problem of domestic abuse.
To have someone endure abuse, and then have to decide if he/she can leave pets behind is an additional burden placed on an already stressed-out survivor. As far as his or her adult children go, most survivors choose to stay and not leave their child behind. Most shelters – and this includes the one I fled to – will not allow adult children to stay in the shelter with the survivor.
This is unacceptable. This policy prevents people from getting the help they need.
In an ideal shelter – in a shelter I envision – there wouldn’t be one house with bunk beds in each room. It would be more like a compound, with individual units (like motel rooms) where each family and their pet(s) could stay while transitioning to permanent housing.
Counselors would be assigned to the units (maybe 1 counselor to 4 units, for example), and they would help the survivor obtain whatever was needed to help him or her start a new life – whether it be permanent housing, a job, further education, medical assistance, or other resources.
That is my vision. Unfortunately, I am unable to move on this due to my recurring transportation and illness issues, but maybe this will spark some action from someone who is able to help.
This vision is one of the things that motivates me to continue to push to get well. Clearly, a shelter that operated as I think it should would cost more than how they are run today, but that’s where grant writing and fundraising come into play. It also would help to have a paying job on the side.
That’s where the motivation is for me to go back to school and either get my PhD, or find some way to get a license (licensed professional counselor).
So much to do, so little time. But I have to get well first. And I may have to travel out of state (or at least to Pittsburgh or Hershey) to get the medical care I need.
On Friday I will see one of my primary care physicians and see how quickly I can get an appointment with an endocrinologist. Medicare being what it is, I can’t even try for an appointment without a referral from my pcp. Fingers crossed that I can get an appointment soon, and that it’s in Blair County where I live.
I am a dreamer. I am a survivor. And right now, I can use all the help I can get.
Today’s recommendation, if you can stomach it, would be the 3rd and final presidential debate tonight at 9 PM EST. I watched the other 2 but am not sure how much of this final one I will watch – my blood pressure is high enough, thanks.
The Saturday Night Live parody this Saturday should be quite funny, however, and no doubt we will have every channel doing post-debate analysis anyway, so if you don’t watch it live I don’t think you will miss anything.
In the meantime, here is a short clip of our president that illustrates, for me, how much I will miss him when he leaves office:
I will miss First Lady Michelle Obama, too:
Be good. Be kind. Take care of one another.