Our helpline is staffed 24/7, but not everyone can safely make the call.
“Beth” was worried about her safety. Washington’s “Stay Home, Stay Safe” order reduced her chance of catching or spreading COVID-19, but it left her vulnerable to other dangers.
Her husband lost hours at work, which meant a smaller paycheck and more time trapped at home with him. While he never hurt her physically, the emotional abuse grew by the day, scaring Beth and their young daughter.
In her brief moments alone, Beth reached out to LifeWire via email. Working with an advocate only through email, Beth put together a safety plan and came up with ways to keep her and her daughter safer.
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The abuse continued even after Sophie left her husband. But instead of attacking her with criticism, threats, or physical violence, he targeted her bank account.
Sophie felt shocked and horrified the first time it happened. Her entire paycheck was gone less than an hour after it had been deposited. She reported the fraud to both her bank and employer, but her ex continued to use a flaw in the system to drain her bank account after every pay period.
The unpaid bills quickly piled up. First, her cellphone was disconnected. Then a utility shutoff notice appeared on her door. She scrambled to pay for food and rent for both herself and her 3-year-old son.
Afraid she would lose her home, Sophie reached out to LifeWire for help. Flexible funds made it possible for Sophie to restore her cellphone service and pay her utility bill. She received help with her banking issues and no longer has to worry about her paycheck disappearing. To protect herself and her son, she’s working with a legal advocate to help with custody issues.
After months of turmoil and instability, Sophie is finally confident that things are back on track.
Shortly after arriving in Washington, Rose found a job working part-time for the U.S. Postal Service. But between the government shut-down and February’s snowstorms, she went over two months without a full paycheck. Unable to rent an apartment because of the debt she took on to flee her abuser, Rose and her two children bounced between family, hotels, and her car. They were homeless in winter.
Stress, exhaustion, and worry replaced the initial relief Rose felt after putting 2,000 miles between her abuser and the kids. But what hurt Rose the most was watching her children face the ongoing impact of domestic violence combined with the new trauma of homelessness. Rose’s children struggled with their emotions at school and the lack of stability she longed to give them.
Rose reached out to LifeWire. With the help of her LifeWire housing advocate, Rose overcame her difficult rental history and limited income. After five months of wintertime homelessness, the family finally moved into an apartment of their own.
With a stable and safe roof over their heads and the support of LifeWire advocates, Rose and her children are healing and planning for their future. Rose is working on career development and the children are thriving in their new home and schools.
On a cold February morning, a dozen Eastside high school students arrived in Olympia. They were excited to participate in Domestic Violence Advocacy Day for the first time. The members of GOVAA (Gender Orientated Violence Advocacy and Activism), an after-school club at Interlake High School, all share a deep commitment to supporting survivors of gender-based violence and promoting healthy relationships within their school and communities. Many have experienced domestic violence in their own families or watched friends struggle with dating violence and unhealthy relationships. They were eager to tell their stories and, as one student shared, “change the world.”
In the morning, the students gathered with DV advocates from across the state to learn about legislation affecting survivors. Many of the youth were surprised by how many of the bills aimed at preventing homelessness and addressing poverty would also help survivors of domestic violence. By the time they met with their representatives, the students felt energized to “improve the lives of our community members.”
Their enthusiasm was contagious. After sharing their personal stories about gender-based violence and how violence impacted their family and friends, a legislative aide told LifeWire’s Social Change Manager, “they are powerful.”
Young people have a tremendous ability to shift culture if we empower them. The youth only spent a day in Olympia, but it had ripple effects in the community and their lives. Several of the bills the youth advocated for became law, increasing protections for survivors and low-income families. GOVAA is looking for other ways to enact policy changes on the Eastside. And one of the students has decided to run for student body office next year.
Anna started seeing LifeWire’s Mental Health Therapist because she was experiencing symptoms of severe trauma. She felt numb and disoriented, had trouble focusing at work, and was having panic attacks.
Abuse, whether physical or psychological, can affect survivors’ mental health. People who experience trauma because of domestic violence are at significantly higher risk for PTSD, depression, and anxiety. Survivors may also try to escape pain and depression with substance use or consider suicide.