Survivor Stories Part 1

Every day our advocates assist individuals and families in need of safety, support, and resources. This is one of the 12 stories of those resilient survivors we will be sharing with you this year. If you or someone you care about is in need of help please call our toll-free number 1.800.373.1043, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Pam’s days were predictable and heartbreaking. From the moment she woke up until the moment she went to sleep were stress and fear filled. She was in a constant state of anxiety.

Every morning, she was up by 6, dressed and in the kitchen preparing breakfast for her husband, Harold. The orange juice had to be freshly squeezed with just the right amount of pulp. Each day’s breakfast menu had to be cooked just right and as homemade as possible. If something was awry, she was the recipient of Harold’s verbal rages and put-downs.  She learned many years ago not to say anything, but I am so sorry, as anything otherwise would result in him throwing his food on the floor and grabbing her to either shake her or slap her. The dinner menu was always posted on the fridge; she had learned to do that without fail or another tantrum would be coming.

They had been married for 32 years; right after she graduated from high school. He had gone on to college to get a business degree; she had worked two jobs to support them.  When Harold graduated and got a job, he told her to quit with the sweet promise of “you took care of me for four years, let me take care of you for a while”. When she wanted to continue in her sales job, he would become angry. She gave in and became a stay at home wife. As the years went on, he isolated her more and more from her family and friends. Most of her interaction with people came from routine shopping and regular household situations or the few professional visits she was allowed to have such as medical and dental appointments.

She had to account for every penny spent, as Harold would diligently go over receipts.  He paid all the bills and had her use a debit card for household expenses so that he could match the receipts with the bills.

However, that was not the worst. Harold would call her every bad name in the book, constantly criticize almost everything that she did. He was condescending to her even in front of his friends and business acquaintances. He would push her, shove her and slap her so hard she would see “stars”.  He would pick up an object and point it at her like he was going to either throw it at her or hit her with it. This truly terrified her, as these objects were carefully chosen like the fireplace tools, a hammer or a heavy pan.  

During a professional visit, she needed to use the bathroom. There she found some literature about domestic abuse and quickly read it. She decided to call the DVIP hotline and was connected to an advocate where she poured out her fears and concerns. They set up a meeting where she could talk safely and told her advocate she wanted out of the marriage.  

The advocate was able to find an attorney who would give Pam a consultation for free so that she could weigh her options and know the legal aspects of a divorce. In a very short while, she decided that she did want a divorce and was worried about her emotional and physical health, as the abuse over that many years had taken its’ toll.

The advocate was able to be with her throughout the journey and able to refer her to continued professional help.  Pam had a lot to catch up on as far as joining the workforce after all the years of being forced to stay at home.  Technology had moved rapidly; she had not and that affected her ability to find meaningful work as well as going to a community college to learn the new skills she needed for a job.  The emotional healing will be even more difficult and time-consuming.  As there is a vast need for therapists and counselors in her area.  Beyond health insurance coverage and/or means to pay, there is a long wait to see someone qualified to assist victim/survivors.

If you or someone you love can relate to any of Pam’s story please reach out to an advocate today, 800.373.1043. If you would like to assist victim/survivors by funding the work of the Domestic Violence Intervention Program please email our Community Engagment Team at