October 17, 2018 Breaking Barriers Newsletter, Domestic Violence and Disabilities, Our Stories 0 Comments


Last summer, after a domestic violence incident, Oliva was feeling emotionally, physically, mentally and spiritually unsafe. She needed to find a way up and out for herself and her children.

“The (domestic violence) incident that took place on June 5th turned everything upside down for me,” says Olivia. “I needed to get away from this abusive relationship with my children’s father. (Barrier Free Living’s) Freedom House (domestic violence shelter) has been the catalyst to me gaining complete freedom from my abuser and my toxic past.”

It was during the process of filing a police report related to the domestic violence, that Olivia learned about her options for safe shelter. And she had to make some difficult choices.

“I had to stop working at my job; I had to take my sons out of their daycare; I even lost the apartment that was being renovated for my sons and I to move into,” she says. “I lost everything because I had to relocate. I needed to get away from this abusive relationship with my children’s father. I needed a real change. I needed to implement “no-contact.”

Olivia was guided to Freedom House (watch a virtual tour film of Freedom House here.).

During her first week at Freedom House, after moving her family into their new safe living space, she was assigned a social worker, a family coordinator, a housing specialist, and met with the on-site nurse and the occupational therapy (OT) team.

“I loved everything…I was able to navigate through the different resources that were offered at Freedom House,” she says. “l immediately connected with my social worker and was grateful that she, among other staff, were very supportive of my family. I loved that Freedom House offered activities for all residents, including the children. I loved that there was childcare so that I can freely attend classes such as anger group, DV support group, and OT.”

Working with the various teams, Olivia began to research her options moving forward, and decided to pursue her goal of being a nurse and of someday owning a home. She is currently studying nursing at Monroe College, a path that she set in motion with the support of the Freedom House team.

“During my time at Freedom House I have gained the most strength, encouragement, independence, courage, and focus that I could have ever developed on my own.” says Olivia. “This is the first time since my relationship with my children’s father that I have successfully maintained no-contact. It has been a liberating process where I have learned that I am a strong, smart, and worthy woman.”

When asked what she would say to people facing a situation similar to her, Olivia offers: “never lose hope.”

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