Page 8 - DVCC Annual Report 2010-2011

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CLIENT STORY: Eight Years Later....
One of the realities of being a crisis center is
that we don’t always know how our clients fare over
time. We provide them with shelter, support and
numerous services, and often get to know them really
well, especially if they stay in our SafeHouses for a
few weeks. But then they are off on their own, and
while some may stay in touch for a while, eventually
the contact usually stops. We hope that they are do-
ing well and that they never need our services again.
Just a few days after some DVCC staff members
were discussing this very topic, Cyndy Goldberg, our
SafeHouse Director, received a message that a former
client had called.”I needed to call and re-thank you. I
think of you guys every day,” she told Cyndy. Then
she agreed to pay us a visit.
Anna walked into the Stamford Safe-
House flanked by her two children, Cassie*,
15, and Michael*, age 8. It was January 16,
2012, the Martin Luther King holiday, and
the three of them could have been doing
anything on their day off from school and
work. Nonetheless, they chose to spend it
driving for nearly two hours in order to visit
the SafeHouse, catch up with Cyndy and
let Anna talk about her story. Cassie said
she remembered the SafeHouse very well,
and while Michael did not, it had been his
first home. Seven months pregnant when
she first arrived at the DVCC SafeHouse in
May of 2003, Anna gave birth to Michael at
Stamford Hospital, and then returned to the
SafeHouse for another week before transfer-
ring to a transitional housing program in a
nearby town.
While her children occupied themselves
in the living room, Anna settled into a chair
inCyndy’s office and talked about her 17-year
journey from a 23-year-old newlywed to a
40-year-old single mother. Pretty and soft-
spoken, she exuded a quiet purposefulness
born out of years of struggling to not only
support her children, but to also raise them
to be happy, well-rounded people. Coupled
with that was an air of shy confidence that
she was achieving both.
It took Anna a long time to understand
that her husband was abusive, she said, be-
cause the abusewas psychological, emotional
and financial, but never physical. In fact, it
wasn’t until she was pregnant with Michael
that she began to seriously question the
relationship.
“I knew in the back of mymind that this
wasn’t working the way it should, and that I
didn’t want to bring a second child into this
kind of relationship,” she said.
At the time, Anna was finishing up
requirements for a Masters Degree in Edu-
cation, working, raising their daughter and
taking care of the household. Her husband
worked, but contributed little else, other than
occasionally watching Cassie while his wife
was at school orwork. AsAnna becamemore
independent and confident in her abilities,
herhusband’sput-downs, psychological game
playing and controlling behavior intensified.
Furthermore, he didn’t want to know any-
thing about the pregnancy and even tried to
prevent Anna from going to the doctor for
her pre-natal checkups. Ironically, it was her
gynecologist who gave Anna a card contain-
ing information on domestic violence and
available services after Anna had talked to
her about what was going on at home.
“Thatwas thefirst time anyonehadgiven
me an inkling that maybe something was not
right,” she said. “I always knew there were
people who would abuse people sexually and
physically, but I didn’t know there was an
emotional abuse component to all of that,
which I think ismore subtle and evenworse.”
A few days after that visit to the doctor,
Anna put Cassie in the car, drove to a gas
station, called the hotline number on the card
and found a safe place to spend the night.
The next day she drove to her home state of
Connecticut, where she was referred to the
Stamford SafeHouse.
“Itwas like being at a hotel,” she laughed.
“It was clean, air-conditioned and comfort-
able, therewerepeople to talk toand therewas
enough food. At home we never had enough
or the right kind of food, even though we
made plenty of money.”
Annaacknowledged that shehadn’t taken
proper careof herself duringher secondpreg-
nancy and that her diet was lacking in many
of the foods she should have been eating.
“I remember sitting at the table here and
stuffing myself with carrots and other fresh
vegetables,” she laughed. “Being here was a
really helpful and supportive experience. I
talked to counselors all the time about what
I was going through. They helped get Cassie
into school right away and they even helped
me find a programthat would take care of her
while I was in the hospital having Michael.”
After leaving the DVCC SafeHouse,
Anna and her family lived in the transitional
housing facility for a year and a half, and
Anna’s story is illustrativeof why
it is so important that doctors screen
their patients for intimate partner
violence and provide them with re-
ferral information.Herdoctorpicked
up on signs there were problems,
talked with her and provided her
with the appropriate information,
which gave Anna the incentive she
needed to leave a harmful relation-
ship. Numerous studies havedocu-
mented the extremely harmful, and
sometimes fatal, effects domestic
violence has on pregnant women
and their unborn children. Both
physical and non-physical abuse
can have serious health conse-
quences. According to the Futures
Without Violence website, studies
show that:
•Womenexperiencingabuse in
the year prior to and/or duringpreg-
nancy are 40 to 60 percent more
likely than non-abused women to
report high blood pressure, vaginal
bleeding, severe nausea, kidney
or urinary tract infections and hos-
pitalization during pregnancy and
are 37 percent more likely to deliver
preterm. Children born to abused
• • • • • •
mothers are 17 percent more likely
to be born underweight and more
than 30 percent more likely than
other children to require intensive
care upon birth.
• Few doctors screen their pa-
tients for abuse, even though up
to one in 12 pregnant women are
battered.
• Women who were screened
for abuse and given a wallet sized
referral reported fewer threats of
violence, assaults or even harass-
ment at work.