Just before Christmas, a woman who had suffered years of horrifying abuse entered the Safer Futures domestic violence shelter. She had escaped from her abuser who kept her tied to the hot water tank in the basement. He would give her a slice of bread, a glass of water and 30 seconds to consume it. If she didn’t finish in time, he would take it away from her. When she came to the shelter she had a difficult time sleeping; she told us that she would wake up covered in sweat because of nightmares where the hot water tank exploded and burned her skin.

It was Christmas time during her first week with us and we were seeking sponsors to adopt our families for the holidays. When asked what she wanted she put three things on her list. The items she listed were necessities, so we asked her to put at least one thing down that she wanted. She wasn’t used to anyone trying to help her as her family took the abuser’s side. He promised to give them money for Christmas if they didn’t help her. She shared this information with tears in her eyes and said, “My own family sold me out for Christmas money.”

While at the shelter, she was able to gain support from the staff and other residents. Soon, she was cooking meals, eating with others, sleeping better, identifying goals and beginning to achieve them. With housing assistance, she found a small apartment. She was excited to have it and loved that it had a balcony. She moved into that apartment and is doing well.