After enduring nine years of abuse, Sandra took her first step toward a new life. Her choice to reach out to Family Services was encouraged by her realization that her children did not know who she was outside of their abusive environment.
Sandra knows many individuals who have had a similar experience with verbal abuse. She recalls feeling like she had to take what was said because she is a woman. She was responsible for how her abuser treated her, yet viewing it now, Sandra describes the domestic abuse as the worst experience she has lived through.
She realized that the negativity and abuse were not her fault. "After so long, I thought to myself, if I was the problem, I would have this issue with everyone, but I didn't. The negativity was not me. I finally said enough is enough. I will look for help."
After receiving counseling at Family Services, Sandra's whole perception changed. Before, she believed that someone could do everything on their own. They just had to set their mind to it. She now views the service as something everyone should consider doing. Sandra has learned how to stand up for herself. She is also grateful for how far she has come. Without counseling, she doesn't know where she would be.
"Family Services has great counselors, let me tell you... They are awesome. Mine has helped me grow, and at my worst moments, she always has the correct words to reassure me that I'm going to get out. I'm going to get through it. It's a blessing. It's something that we all need. I think it should be in everyday life; not just this person is going to counseling because they have these problems. It should be something for all of us in general to do. "
In speaking with Sandra, she shared that although the domestic violence acts were not physically against her children, she knows they were impacted in many other ways.
Sandra recalls a recent moment with her sister. While she and her sister were watching her girls play, Sandra's sister turned around and told her, "Sandra the girls look completely different."
Sandra asked what she meant, and her sister replied, "Look at them, they just look so full of life, the fear is gone, all the not socializing with people and keeping to themselves... that's not them anymore."
Sandra smiled and said, "Do you think so?"
Sandra's hope for the future is to heal, not only for herself but for her daughters. Sandra's advice to anyone in this situation is, "Don't be afraid. There's a way out. Just take that first step, that is all it takes." Sandra took the first step for herself and her family. She is doing everything she can to continue their healing journey. Sandra shares her story to let others know it is okay to take that step.
If you know someone who is currently in or leaving an abusive relationship, the best thing you can do is listen and be supportive. Family services' emergency domestic violence hotline is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week at (559)732-5941.
Reaching out can be intimidating or sometimes a safety risk. If talking online is safer or easier, we are here for you. Our trained advocates are available to chat online to offer information, advocacy, and support. You can chat privately with a trained advocate Monday- Friday, 8 a.m.-5 p.m., Pacific Standard Time. This service is available in Spanish and English. For all other languages, please call our hotline.