Being on the receiving end of abuse is terrifying and for many domestic violence victims, like Danielle, escaping emotional and physical abuse can create its own set of nightmares and challenges.
This is her story.
Danielle moved to the Williamsport area many years ago from another state. She was a young adult setting off on an ordinary adventure to discover what life was like beyond her childhood community.
While here, she met a man who would later become her husband and father of their two children.
Danielle’s husband began to emotionally and mentally abuse her. Like many abusers, he began with small comments that he attempted to justify as “just being frustrated with work,” among other excuses.
But over time, hateful and demeaning comments about her intelligence, emotions and body broke Danielle’s spirit. She began to feel worse and worthless as his comments intensified and she was forbidden to work or interact with her friends and family. After years of increasing torment, Danielle knew she had to return home to escape his mind control and abuse.
This was heartbreaking for Danielle because she had to leave her children with him. He was not abusive to the kids and he was able to provide housing and food for them while keeping them in school – necessities Danielle could not provide while seeking her own mental health and safety.
While taking steps to rebuild her broken heart and spirit, Danielle met a man who promised to keep her safe and happy. He quickly broke his promise and began to manhandle Danielle and beat her severely.
After she was hospitalized as a result of his abuse, Danielle returned to Williamsport to be close to her children, whom she missed terribly. She got her own place and began to share custody of her children with her now ex-husband.
But quickly his mental and emotional abuse reared its ugly head again – with more intensity and threats than before, forcing Danielle to seek a Protection From Abuse order and fight for full custody of her children.
“She couldn’t take it any longer and came to Wise Options to find safety and solace from abuse,” said YWCA Wise Options Manager Amber Morningstar. “She was determined and knew she needed help to rebuild her life and create a strong future for herself and her children.”
Wise Options is Lycoming County’s only 24-7 comprehensive service center that cares for victims of domestic violence, sexual assault and violent crimes – providing a safe place to stay and emotional support for women, children, and men experiencing the torment of abuse. Professional staff guides victims of domestic violence and rape to build independent lives of security through counseling, advocacy and unconditional support.
Danielle stayed in Wise Options for 30 days and met regularly with counselors.
“Everything she said she wanted to accomplish, she did,” Amber said, adding that Danielle knew she had to stabilize her own life in order to regain custody of her children and create a stable future for them.
During her one-month stay in Wise Options, Danville bought her own car. She then transitioned the YWCA’s Liberty Options program, a special subset of Liberty House for women who are homeless as a direct result of violence.
While completing the intensive case management and education of Liberty Options, Danielle regained full custody of her children and enrolled in college so that she and her children have a strong foundation to build a safe, happy, bountiful life together.
“None of us knows what goes on behind the closed doors of others, but we certainly expect someone’s home to be a safe sanctuary,” said Scott N. Lowery, LCUW executive director. “For Danielle, that wasn’t the case and she didn’t feel she had a safe place to turn. But thanks to the United Way-funded YWCA programs, she has achieved full custody of her children and is putting her life back together. These are the kinds of investments we are proud to be making and thanks to our donors we are able to do so.”
Lycoming County United Way is proud to provide $103,000 to the YWCA Northcentral PA’s Wise Options and Liberty House programs. But we cannot do it without you. Help us continue support by making a contribution today. Call Lycoming County United Way at 323-9448 or visit www.development.lcuw.org.