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Our Impact

Read a survivor’s domestic violence story to learn how Haven Hills helps survivors break the cycle of domestic violence.

  • Survivor Story #1

    Anonymous Survivor Story

    No one ever told me I would be sharing this challenging time in my life with you. I agreed to write this survivor story because Haven Hills has helped me, and I want to do a little to help them. And if telling my story will help you realize why it’s essential to support this organization, then so be it.

    Joe was my childhood sweetheart, and we were together since I was 15 years old. Looking back, I should have seen the signs — how he isolated me from my family and friends. Joe got jealous of the doctor I worked for; I thought it was cute and he was just being sensitive. When he put me down, I thought it was my fault. I believed him when he cheated on me and lied because I was in love. He was my family, the father of my children, and I was emotionally and financially dependent on him. 

    When I tried to stand up for myself, he would scream at me for hours and then leave for days at a time, emptying the bank account and leaving me at home with three children — all without food and money. I couldn’t do anything right in his eyes; he even complained about the way I cleaned. If I cooked, it was too salty, and he would throw it all away. Yet, I could never scream back because there would be more screaming, less money, and more stress as a result. 

    So, I took it and downplayed all his behavior. I was trying desperately to hold my family together. And then it got worse — he started to do meth. He was always high and would wander around at night. I was terrified of what he would do and found myself unable to sleep. I was exhausted. I even started putting bells on my kid’s doors to keep them safe. 

    Finally, I ended up telling my mom, and she said, “You have three kids, men cheat, figure it out.” When he saw that I had no one to turn to and that I was all alone, that’s when the mad man came out. That scared me a lot because I had nowhere to go. I couldn’t shower with the door closed, and then I couldn’t even shower with the curtain closed. He wanted me to get mad and then get better and then get mad again – it was a vicious cycle.

    Then it happened, the final straw. In a meth-induced hallucination, he tried to attack my daughter, and that was it. When he started attacking the kids, we had to go. My dad came the next day to pick me up, and years later, I stand before you, a woman trying to rebuild her life and the lives of her children. 

    I’m tremendously thankful to Haven Hills for the help that they have given me. When I walked through the Haven Hills Outreach Program doors, I had such bad anxiety that it was hard for me to share during the group. You see, when I was with Joe, I was so depressed that I would sit for hours on the couch. I was terrified of that couch – I didn’t want to get stuck. My counselor suggested that I come in for individual counseling until I was ready for the group. She cared enough to meet me where I was. It had been a while since anyone had done that. 

    At first, I went to the group and didn’t talk. But, little by little, I started sharing experiences because I wasn’t the only one. Hearing other people’s stories helped. I wasn’t the only one terrified, and I wasn’t the only one whose husband was using drugs. Haven Hills helped me realize that my journey is a roller coaster and that there’s no time limit to healing. 

    Haven Hills has also given me the support and the strength that I need to talk about anything without fear of judgment. The art projects that we do always challenge me because I need to dig deep to really explore my losses. I need to hurt before it gets better.

    My counselor at Haven Hills also helped me find one-on-one therapy for my kids and myself. I have slowly started to heal, between the work I’ve done at Haven Hills and with my therapist. I now understand the cycle of abuse. I understood that I wasn’t crazy. I learned boundaries and that there are no right or wrong answers.

    I also know now that this journey of healing is going to take a while. I will have setbacks, but I know now how to keep going. Years of emotional, psychological, and financial abuse will probably take me years to get over, but I now have the tools I need to get better. I owe it to myself and my children. They are worth it.

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  • Survivor Story #2

    Ellen’s Survivor Story.

    Survivors of domestic violence face many barriers when they decide to leave an abusive relationship. They may have limited resources, for instance, or lack the confidence and skills to provide for themselves and their children. At Haven Hills, we believe that everyone deserves to live a life free from violence. So, we break down these obstacles by providing specialized services and assistance to help survivors begin a new life. 

    Take Ellen and her three young children, for example, who had been living in a van for two months before finding Haven Hills. Ellen fled her abusive partner the night her six-year-old son stepped in between them to protect her. The abuse she endured was a constant in that relationship, much like it had been with her own parents’ relationship. But this was too much.

    “I had no role models for what a relationship should be.” — Ellen, a survivor of domestic violence

    The night Ellen fled, she put her kids in her van and drove with no idea where to go. She was unemployed, and her three children were six, five, and the youngest, less than a year old. After two months of homeless living in the van and out of money, Ellen made a call and got admitted into the Haven Hills crisis shelter. Almost immediately after that, Ellen landed a job at a factory and worked to save as much as she could toward getting her own place.

    “I understand that it’s easier financially when you’re in a two-parent home. But now I see there’s so much I can do on my own, which encourages me to work harder.” — Ellen

    Ellen’s employer, however, did not offer part-time positions at her job. So, she weighed her options for creating a better future for herself and her family with the help of our Housing Navigator. She could build her savings with this current job but knew that would not help in the long run. Instead, she decided that the best use of her time at our 18-month transitional housing shelter was to concentrate on finishing her diploma.  

    During that time, Ellen also attended support groups to work with a counselor to address the impact of witnessing abuse as a child and of being victimized in her own relationships throughout her life. And upon earning her diploma, she went back to work to boost her savings. 

    Together, our Housing Navigator helped Ellen plan for the future and advocated on her behalf to rent a two-bedroom apartment. A strong credit rating and a good start at savings went a long way toward getting Ellen approved. And through our Housing First program, we provided Ellen with financial assistance (a deposit and a few months of rent) to help her get settled into her new place. This aid will taper off as she adjusts to her new financial independence. 

    Ellen continues to be a saver; she shops at second-hand stores and closely manages the family budget. She is determined to buy her own house and is doing everything in her power to be financially independent.

    “I used to sleep in a van with my kids. I won’t put them through that again.” — Ellen

    Choosing between homelessness and abuse is no choice at all. Financial and housing assistance, paired with emotional support and counseling, make all the difference in empowering survivors to transform their lives. Each year, Haven Hills’ flexible funding provides critical housing access and stability to dozens of survivors exiting our programs so that they have a safe place to put their children to bed at night.

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  • Survivor Story #3

    When we talk about domestic violence, we often assume that the survivor is a woman. However, often overlooked are the thousands of men in this country who are victims of domestic violence, suffering physical, mental and sexual abuse in both heterosexual and same-sex relationships.

    According to the CDC, one in four adult men in the U.S. will become a victim of domestic violence during his lifetime. That’s approximately three million male domestic violence victims every year; or one man in America who will be abused by an intimate or domestic partner every 37.8 seconds.

    Anyone can be the victim of domestic abuse and everyone who needs protection deserves access to it.

    For 6 years Manuel and his children suffered abuse from his gang-affiliated wife. When it escalated, he took his children and ran. They spent a month living on the streets before he finally called a crisis hotline and asked for help.

    Manuel has been a client of our transitional shelter for one year. During that time, he has been able to get his high school diploma and a culinary arts certificate. More importantly,

    “Thanks to the program I acknowledged the issues that led me to be in relationships that were not healthy and to work on making sure that I develop healthy boundaries…My children are happier and safer now. They went through a lot emotionally but thanks to the counselors, they have been able to acknowledge their emotions and have learned different coping mechanism, which I know will help them in the long run.”

    Manuel is committed to helping others understand that, “Domestic Violence doesn’t happen only to women. Men are victims too. It is something that should be talked about because the more we talk about it, the less taboo it will become.“

    Manuel tells us his next step is to find employment in a restaurant with the longer term goal of owning his own catering.

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  • Survivor Story #4

    For over 40 years, Haven Hills has strived to provide Survivors with the support they need to overcome the damage that domestic violence has created in their lives. We grieve with them through their recovery and, as time goes on, celebrate with them important milestones. Such is the case of Kristen, one of our Outreach alums, who recently celebrated her 10-year anniversary as a survivor of domestic violence on Wednesday, August 8th, 2018. Like many in her position, she remembers exactly the day that she left to start a new life. We are honored to share her story, her words, and the hopeful voice she brings. Congratulations Kristen.“I didn’t think that I would survive. Not with being repeatedly injured. I trained my mind to survive. I had this mantra in 2008 that I needed to become a Phoenix or I would be killed. Then, I went radio silent. I fought for my life and the life of my dog. I was granted custody of my dog under my 4th Amendment right in the state of California, under the Domestic Violence Statute of Limitations. My mother hired the best Los Angeles attorney & she paid her $10,000 to get custody of my Lucki. I packed a bag and I left. I left with nothing, no family heirlooms, no nothing. I left once and I never went back. My life was threatened repeatedly, I was bullied on social media for 2 years. I honestly didn’t want to live but I didn’t want to break my mother’s heart. She said if anything happened to me, she wouldn’t know how to survive. I couldn’t bear the thought of doing that to my mother, so I took a risk by escaping because I went into fight or flight mode, under immense stress, several hospitalizations and a dehumanization of sorts. No one can ever imagine what I went through nor would I want anyone to. I am one of the lucky ones to get out alive. I am no different than anyone else, as I was trying to make my marriage work. Dream house, dream job…a blur of a life once lived. It didn’t work, it never worked, it wasn’t meant to work. He was a horrible person. He was awful to my parents and worse to me. He told me his intent was to murder me in cold blood as he said “he would put my head in a ditch and called me a b*!$h.” I needed to survive. I needed to know what it would feel like to be free. I silenced his words and listened to my own. My mind became my survival landscape. My 911 tape is being released & today, I am a 10 year survivor of Domestic Violence, Violent Crime & Attempted Murder. I am finally free.

    My name is Kristen and I am a survivor.”

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Survivors have broken the cycle of domestic violence with help from haven hills. here's what they have to say