Karen* called the police for the last time and decided to leave her abusive husband after nearly 25 years. She first met with an advocate from Camden County Women’s Center Domestic Violence Response Team as she waited with her 3 children to file her Temporary Restraining Order and learn what charges her husband would be facing after he abused her that night.
As the advocate connected her with two legal advocates for her case, she proceeded through the following weeks and lived on some money provided to her by friends and family. She was connected with attorneys for divorce, custody, and was finally experiencing living life on her own, navigating a system that seemed so foreign to her, and uprooting her children in order to keep them safe. Her husband never allowed her to work, and she had no idea where to even start when looking for work, so she obtained TANF funding from the State to help her move forward on her own.
As she entered her third counseling session at Camden County Women’s Center Outreach and Support Center, she was asked, “what are your dreams?” She paused before replying, primarily because no one had ever asked her that question before. She remembers dreaming of getting away from her abusive father as a young girl, obtaining a college degree, and raising a healthy family. She remembers dreaming of being a social worker, of helping individuals that were struggling, especially families. She never dreamt after that, as her life became consumed by power and control at the hands of her abuser.
Karen replied to her CCWC counselor and said, “I want to help others the way you are helping me.” The counselor set Karen up for some incredible resources available for women’s independence and outlined the path of obtaining an education in the field of social work. The counselor helped Karen make a real plan to survive and show her children what it means to survive.
As Karen realized she needed to really analyze her financial situation, she signed up with CCWC for financial empowerment classes along with regular case management, she learned how she can properly fund her own plan, for the first time checked into her credit report, and obtained the tools needed to provide for her family.
Through the program, she was able to budget, find the grants needed to put her through school, and teach her children in an entirely new way. Karen is now entering graduate school and volunteering with women in need. Karen is a close friend and partner of CCWC and a strong survivor of domestic violence.
*Name has been changed at the client’s request.