"Dear I Choose Freedom,
I want to personally express my gratitude to God for bringing me and my children to a home of safety and peace. I came to this refuge as a walking corpse. I was dejected, so afraid, frustrated, and depressed. I had thought life wasn't worth it anymore. My children were also going through a lot of complex problems, and my oldest child was struggling academically.
Myself and my children were brought to refuge by my social worker, and she told us that this was going to be our new temporary home. We were taken to a beautiful reception which I later realized was the office. I met a woman who I later discovered would be my support worker. She welcomed me with a beautiful smile and assured me that I was safe now. She showed me and my children around the refuge, and at first, I was so scared because of my experience with domestic abuse over the last 14 years. Also, my abuser used to tell me that white people were racist and that they don't like blacks. He also said that no one would ever believe me, even if I called the police.
My assumption was wrong. When I met my support worker, God bless her – I think God used her to save my life. I would cry like a baby because I was emotionally finished, and my support worker would put her hands around my shoulder to comfort me. One of the things I constantly told my support worker was that I do not want to die, as my perpetrator always threatened this. My support worker assured me ‘not on her watch’ - this would not happen. I remembered coming into the refuge home with just three sets of clothes, my children too had no clothes to wear. We constantly wore the same things because I could not afford to buy clothes, as my abuser took all my money. I told my support worker about it, and she said I should come to the Clothing Room at the refuge to see if I could get some new items. ‘Wow’, I thought to myself, I got so many clothes for myself and my children. We now have lovely clothes and my kids, and I dress beautifully now. Another experience was when I got to refuge, I was really struggling with funds and sometimes it was difficult to get essentials for my children. My support worker told me about the Food Bank, and one was requested for me, so I had enough to eat. My support worker knew what I needed, she would always give extras, such as toilet paper, sanitary products and even some treats/snacks for my children - this always makes me cry tears of joy. I have never experienced this kind of love in my entire life. When it was getting close to winter, the children and I had no winter clothes. I told my support worker, and she advised the Children’s Worker’s about the situation. My children were then given beautiful brand-new winter clothes to wear.
I soon got so comfortable with my support worker that I could tell her all my fears and worries, and guess what - she would always have solutions to every problem. My immigration status was related to my abuser’s visa, which was one of the reasons I was afraid to open up to anyone. He constantly threatened to deport me and the children and have me killed. My support worker contacted an immigration lawyer and got the process started. All my fears and worries were just sorted out, each time I thank my support worker for all her kind gestures. She would always tell me that she was ‘just doing her job’ - but to me, this was more than her job. I Choose Freedom also got me a counsellor to help me through my emotional stress. They also engaged my younger children in Play Therapy and helped with a counsellor for my older child.
The Children’s Workers were always there for my children. We even got presents on our birthday, and all the needs of the children were met by the Children’s Workers Team.
All the staff are professionals. There is no discrimination, no mockery… as long as you don't break the refuge rules, you will be treated like a Queen. The Freedom Programme was a great experience also. To crown it all off, I am going to be leaving this refuge home as a happy woman, with happy children. My self-confidence is built, my children are so happy now, and my oldest child who was having issues academically is now thriving in school. We are so grateful to all of the beautiful and professional staff at our refuge home. God bless all Management and Staff, who take safety and security so seriously. Our safety is the most important thing.
I also want to personally thank my support worker for her professionalism in doing her job. She is a life saver. God bless you, thank you I Choose Freedom, my children and I are so grateful to you all."
-Survivor of Domestic Abuse 2023
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