In the many years we have been operating, Safe Haven Foundation has had many women who have returned to living fulfilling lives as survivors of domestic abuse. There are also some who chose to stay. Domestic violence and the relationships around it are not always easy to navigate. And it is our job not only to praise the survivors, but to encourage those who chose to stay and counsel them toward a healthier situation. There is no judgement here, only a dire to help. Here are a few testimonies from different people regarding their experiences:
“After many months of being knocked to the floor and kicked in my lower back and buttocks while lying on the floor; grabbed by the throat; slammed against walls; spat at and not on just one occasion, but at least five, I vividly recall both my doctor and the Police Detective urge that I contact Safe Haven. I remember saying who is Safe Haven?”
My doctor explained and so did the police that Safe Haven is a shelter for women and their children experiencing abuse. I took many beatings before I finally had the courage to make that police report. Safe Haven was contacted and I was admitted, I had finally run away from my husband, my abuser.
I remember arriving at Safe Haven: I WAS CRYING UNCONTROLLABLY, MY FACE VERY SWOLLEN, FEELING ASHAMED THAT MY LIFE HAD COME TO THIS.
I was broken and so damaged I felt dead inside; I was an empty shell. Empty and dead inside. Numb. WORTHLESS AND DISGUSTED.
The staff at Safe Haven welcomed me with compassion and understanding. There was no judgment regarding my life’s choice but instead an unwavering willingness help, assist and empower victims. As I was so broken, I was put on constant watch for the first few days until slowly but surely the tears slowed down and I started to come around to a new way of life living in a domestic violence shelter.
Too frightened to set foot outside off the shelter out of pure fear of seeing my abusive husband on the road, a staff member would accompany me at all times when I needed to run errands like visit the doctor and hospital, go to the police station and so on.
Safe Haven became a safe place, my sanctuary, my place for healing and rebuilding, so I could return to being the person I was before domestic violence destroyed me, physically and emotionally.
Safe Haven guided me towards professional counseling Thereafter I was referred to a psychiatrist who diagnosed me with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder due to the prolonged episodes of various types of abuse I had suffered at the hands of my husband. Slowly, I learned to cope with my flash backs and in my dark days the staff at Safe Haven were always by my side to lift me up.
I formed new friendships with other women going through their experiences of domestic violence, and this made us all realize we were not alone.
I started attending a weekly group workshop with other ladies in the shelter that taught me ways to cope with the effects of domestic violence and allowed me to regaining my self-esteem. The combination of the workshop and therapy made me stronger by the week.
With coaching from Safe Haven, I was able to reach my goals towards self-sufficiency; I got a job, found an apartment and went from victim to victor.
As for my abuser, we are divorced and I am back to being me and loving myself again. I am free from my very abusive marriage.
Safe Haven you saved my life when others turned a blind eye to my abuse.”
“Why Didn’t I Leave?
Because; He had me so brainwashed that it was “all my fault”, that I was no good to anyone; that no one likes me and that I was not smart to make it on my own. No one would ever believe me as he is so respected out there on these streets with his happy Angelic smile which fooled everyone – including me.
“Because; I thought if I tried harder at being a good wife by not provoking him or talking back to him, that maybe he would be happy with me and wouldn’t get angry with me for the slightest thing or for displaying what he perceived as the wrong demeanor. I kept hoping for the return of the sweet charming man that he was when we first met.
“Because; He convinced me that if I tried to leave, I would be homeless since I have no family in St. Maarten. He said he would tell the police, the prosecutors and Judge that I was a crazy woman and that no one would believe me as he has contacts within the law enforcement.
“Because; He would take my money from me when I got paid, tell me I was worthless, that without him I would have no hopes for a job and how I need him more than he needs me. He would say these things even though he would take up to a $1000 of my salary every month, which he would never return, yet if I took $20 from him it was a problem. I could never save enough money to arrange my escape.
“These “Because” are just some of the reasons why I didn’t leave. However; 13 MONTHS LATER I did escape, and ran to Safe Haven (Hotline 9333 / 523 6400) for my safety.
“Since then I’ve NEVER RETURNED to my abusive husband.
“Safe Haven became my new home and my sanctuary for healing while recovering from the many forms of domestic abuse I’ve suffered including emotional, physical and financial abuse.
“Safe Haven helped me to become the victor I am today and not a victim!
“Thank you Safe Haven for saving my life.”