Domestic violence has been cited as a significant cause of homelessness for women and children. According to Safe Housing Partners, thirty-eight percent of all domestic violence victims become homeless at some point in their lives. (Source: Baker, C., Cook, S., & Norris, F. [2003]). According to Cindy Zawojski, Leading Families Home Data Analyst Director, 14 percent of those who come to our shelter cite Domestic Violence as the reason for their homelessness.

Many of those who flee a domestic violence situation must do so with very few resources. Usually, the situation involves a mother and her children experiencing abuse at the hands of a man: a domestic partner, husband, or father. This abuse takes many forms; it’s not just physical. Many times, the abuser limits the victim’s access to money, family, friends, transportation, and support of any kind.

The abuser not only strips his victims of support and resources, he also destroys her self-esteem and sense of dignity. This creates a situation that is nearly insurmountable.

If a woman has children, the circumstances are even worse. She not only must get herself out of the position she’s in, she must find a way to remove her children from it, too.

Only Part of the Story

Statistics and numbers tell only part of the story. Each number represents a person or family that has been exposed to horrific abuse – abuse that affects their lives forever.

At Leading Families Home and Beach House Family Shelter, we are no strangers to domestic violence and the pain it creates. We are grateful for each story of survival and strength we see from our Participants.

Due to confidentiality reasons, we are not naming the individual involved in this story. Instead, we’ll refer to her as, “V” for the purposes of this article.

V’s Story of Survival

V has been homeless twice. The last time, she was homeless for four months.

She has an eleven year old son, an eight year old daughter, and a one year old son. She is pregnant and is due to deliver her baby in September 2020.

At the end of 2019, V moved out of her home state with her three children. She was running from her abuser – the father of one of her children.

She was ordered by the court to return until visitation rights could be established.

Safety: Still Out of Reach

In November, when she moved back to her home state, she found the YWCA Domestic Violence Shelter. She was referred to Leading Families Home for housing. V and her children were housed, and the lease signing took place on March 26, 2020. The family was placed in a three bedroom home.

Unfortunately, safety was still out of reach.

On June 6, 2020, the domestic abuser found the home where V and her children lived. He entered the home and punched holes in some of the walls. He flipped over the stove and refrigerator and broke a house window.

Outside, he had also broken all of the windows out of V’s vehicle.

The police were called, and the abuser was arrested and released on July 14, 2020.

The day after the event, V’s case worker from Leading Families Home spoke to V. V was completely overwhelmed and did not know what to do about what had happened to her. She was terrified to remain in her unit with her children. She was completely paralyzed with fear.

A Shining Light

V’s case manager coached her to move into the YWCA Shelter immediately, which V did. This gave her confidentiality and a sense of safety.

V didn’t give up, even though her home had been invaded and destroyed by her abuser. She followed through with the things she needed to do to gain safety and housing. V picked up her rental unit as well as she could, leaving it as clean as possible. She met with her landlord, who let her out of her lease so she could avoid an eviction. V was later rehoused in a different location in Toledo, Ohio. The YWCA provided the former landlord with $1,200 to repair the damage that occurred in June.

She also regained YWCA Domestic Violence Shelter advocacy and created a safety plan, which helped her feel more secure.

V’s Leading Families Home case worker coached V to notify her doctor about the high stress and anxiety V was experiencing, due to the incident of domestic violence at her home. V completed an OBGYN appointment and made her doctor aware of her situation and increased stress.

V told her case manager, “I had to be strong.”

V’s case manager told her, “I am so proud of you, and your ability to move past the fear and regain stable and safe housing for you and your family.”

Remarkable Strength

V has overcome a multitude of challenges – something that is truly remarkable, given her circumstances.

She has made every effort to keep her address hidden from her abuser.

She has addressed all ongoing court issues related to the visitation of the child she has with her abuser.

Difficult as it is, V has avoided the relatives and friends of her abuser who live in Toledo.

She has made valiant efforts to reduce stress and avoid complications to her pregnancy.

During this time, she has packed and moved her family’s belongings to her new housing unit.

Despite the overwhelmingly bleak situation, V has met her challenges head-on, and, because of her positive attitude, many bright spots in her circumstances have appeared.

V has opened up to her LFH case manager and together, they have come up with solutions to many of her challenges.

She’s regained safety and stability, even after experiencing a terrifying domestic assault on her home and property.

Support

V has been given support through Beach House Family Shelter, which provided V and her family with shelter in a hotel until a new housing unit became available. Thankfully, she and her family were only in Beach House Shelter for about two weeks before finding housing. The family was rehoused quickly, due to the assistance of David Hunt, LFH Housing Coordinator, and V’s determination.

The YWCA Domestic Violence Shelter offered services and advocacy to V, including covering the damages caused to her home by her abuser. This was instrumental in helping V avoid eviction, covering the cost of damages. She also took initiative by working with her former landlord, who released her from her lease. The landlord’s decision was impacted by the fact that V left her unit clean and free of trash. She even removed the stove and refrigerator from the kitchen, so that her landlord wouldn’t have to worry about them, since both appliances were so damaged that they were unusable.

Last, but not least, V has a safety plan to protect herself and her family from further abuse.

Domestic Violence Help

If you are experiencing domestic violence, call 1−800−799−7233. If you are unable to speak safely, you can login to thehotline.org or text LOVEIS to 1-866-331-9474. You are not alone. (National Domestic Violence Hotline)

Safety Alert: Computer use can be monitored and is impossible to completely clear. If you are afraid your internet usage might be monitored, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1−800−799−7233 or TTY 1−800−787−3224.

(A TTY device is used to communicate by people with speech and hearing impairments. A user with a speech impairment can type a message on the TTY machine and the machine will send the message through a phone line or mobile signal. For users with hearing impairments, the TTY machine will turn voice messages into text messages so the user can read them. – What Is TTY Mode On a Cell Phone?)

Stand Against Domestic Violence

Leading Families Home is dedicated to standing against domestic violence. We work with domestic violence shelters across Toledo, such as the YWCA, to safely house those affected by domestic violence.

If you are in need of shelter, please call 2-1-1 immediately.

2-1-1 is completely free and confidential. Once you call, you’ll speak to a Professional Information and Referral Specialist who will work with you to find a shelter or other services you need.

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