It’s easy to think about how the United Way helps people in the abstract – I’d like to share with you how United Way-funded agencies helped me.
For nearly 17 years, I was involved – and married to – an abusive man. He controlled everything from our finances – I never had money – to the clothes I wore. I was never allowed to see my friends or family without him present. He cheated on me repeatedly. He yelled at me every day – every single day. The mental and verbal abuse was actually worse than the physical abuse – I can still hear him in the back of my mind.
During the first ten years of our relationship, we lived in Topeka – there, I volunteered for the Topeka YWCA Center for Safety and Empowerment as a crisis counselor. Because the physical abuse wasn’t as frequent as the daily verbal abuse and his controlling ways, I was able to rationalize that it wasn’t “really abuse.” The truth was, I was just managing day to day. Through my volunteer work though, I learned how to make safety plan, and that resources like protection orders and counseling were available. I filed this away in my memory for future use. The YWCA of Topeka receives United Way funding.
In 2005, we moved to the Washington, DC, area. There, the abuse escalated. It would be another 5 years before I left him. But when I did, I knew exactly what to do – what to pack, what documents to take with me, to bring money and to tell a few people I could trust what was going on – none of them were surprised.
I ended up needing an emergency protection order against him and after that I decided to get help to deal with the aftermath. I contacted a local battered women’s shelter and thanks to funding it received from the United Way, I was able to receive free, one on one counseling. The counseling helped with my anxiety and post-traumatic stress, and I knew that other services were available to me if I needed them.
I moved back to Kansas in 2011 and was able to begin rebuilding my life in earnest – I was even remarried this summer. Your donation to the United Way helps people like me – and countless others across Douglas County. Thank you for your consideration.