Domestic Violence

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Diane, Cincinnati OH

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The first time Diane (name changed to protect her identity) met some of the Families For Families (FFF) volunteers was during one of FFF's monthly dinners at Cincinnati's YWCA Battered Women's Shelter in March of 2009. The women started talking and Diane was happy to tell the volunteers how she was working on her transition out of the shelter. That said, having no furniture and no money made the thought scary but she was determined to give her two sons a new place they can call "home".

Life had not always been a struggle for Diane. Not that long ago, but in a different life, she was a typical Cincinnatian middle-class soccer mom and wife. When her husband became increasingly abusive and threatened her life, Diane's only chance was to flee to the Battered Women's Shelter. Days later, Diane and her sons were sent to a Shelter in another state for their own safety, where they remained for 18 months, until her ex-husband was incarcerated for life. With the perpetrator behind bars, Diane could feel safe enough for herself and her two sons to return to Cincinnati. And this is when she met the FFF volunteers, during her second stay at Cincinnati's Shelter.

Having listened to her story the FFF volunteers were eager to help. When Diane moved into her small apartment FFF was able to provide bunk beds and bedding for the boys as well as other small and bigger household items and supplies. Knowing that she was not alone made Diane's transition easier and gave a shimmer of hope.

It is 18 months later, Fall of 2010. One of our FFF volunteers receives a text message from Diane, telling the good news that the boys and she are doing well. Relatively well. The first apartment they lived in had been broken into during full daylight. The few expensive items like the computer for the boy’s homework and two game boys had been stolen, but mostly her younger son felt invaded and threatened and had to resume counseling. Then came the bed bugs and she had to throw away the comforters and other items that they had received from FFF.

But Diane is a fighter. They moved and she finally found a job, shift work. Many mornings she gets up at 4am to be in time for her 6am shift, the commute is over an hour. Luckily her boys are old enough to look after themselves during the day. And they are good boys – the older son hopes to achieve a scholarship to improve his schooling next year.

At FFF we felt that Diane passed our path so we could make a small difference in her life, hopefully ease it a little. Some of our volunteers got together to bring Diane and her boys a Thanksgiving dinner. We organized winter boots and coats for the three of them and provided warm comforters and new bedding. Just before Christmas some of the FFF volunteers made another surprise visit at Diane’s home and brought a Christmas tree and some gifts to open on Christmas Day. "I think that this is what people want us to do, when they donate money to FFF," a volunteer says, "to help the women and children who have been through the darkest dark in life and help them see that there is a light and people who care."

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Shannon, Denver CO

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Doubt is deceptive in its destruction. Much like addiction, it creeps up, slowly and painfully diminishing hope and happiness. Those consumed by it battle between feelings of worthlessness and the desire to achieve forgotten dreams.

For years, single mom Shannon was trapped in her own struggle with self-doubt, but felt powerless to stop it. An abusive childhood, a failed relationship with the father of her three children and a second bout with homelessness had depleted any remaining feelings of self-confidence.

“We got evicted because my work at a catering company was so unsteady, and I had no savings,” Shannon explains. “I felt like a failure as a mother because I couldn’t provide for my kids.”

Shannon was at the point of exhaustion when she and three daughters, Shanice (18), Khadijha (16), and Yasmeen (12), entered The Crossing’s three-step STAR Transitional Housing Program (THP) in December 2009. With the recent breakdown of her car adding to her distress, case manager Liz Berling remembers her client’s tearful vow to get back on track.

“When Shannon first came to our THP she was having such a difficult time with all the stressors in her life,” Liz recalls. “But she was motivated to change the things that were pulling her down.”

Within weeks of their move, the stifling doubt that had long held Shannon captive began to lose its grip. Money management classes taught her the beauty of budgeting and saving, while her favorite class, Healthy Relationships, helped her move beyond the hurt she endured with her children’s father.

The support Shannon receives from her daughters is also helping her to overcome feelings of parental inadequacy. While many of Shannon’s family members chastised her, insisting, “your children will remember everything you put them through,” oldest daughter Shanice is proud of her mother’s determination, and happily contributes to the family’s finances.  

“I give all the money I make working at a daycare to my mom,” Shanice says. “She is always taking care of us, and I have no problem helping her out.”

Shannon’s budding confidence has also spilled over into other areas of the 40-year-old’s life. Usually averse to technology, she is honing her admittedly limited computer skills, and says The Crossing’s employment courses have encouraged her to pursue other avenues in the food industry.  

“I really love the Get Employed, Stay Employed class I’m taking,” Shannon says with a smile. “I know that I want to stay in the food business, but now I’m thinking about what more I could do!”

Shannon will soon enter Step III of the program, confident that with each class she’ll be closer to achieving her lifelong dream of becoming a homeowner. For now, though, the family is enjoying favorite activities at The Crossing, like spending time in the Broncos Youth Center, and say they will continue to use this opportunity to grow both in their faith and as a family.

“My belief in God has grown since we moved here, and I don’t have pity parties for myself anymore,” Shannon says joyfully. “If you really want to make a change, this place will give you every resource you need to accomplish your goals!” – See more at:

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