On A Mission: Holly’s Story

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On A Mission: Holly’s Story

YWCA helps over 500,000 survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault every year.

In February of 2002, I had left my abusive partner and was living on my own with my two teenage daughters in a motel. I was working overnights for the Department of Transportation and struggling to do it all on my own. It was hard, it was isolating, and it was a scary time. My ex-partner was stalking me, and I had to lock my daughters in the hotel room at night, instructing them to call 911 if he ever came there.

Then one night he attacked me in a bank parking lot. Shaken, I realized I no longer wanted to do this alone. Like many survivors of domestic violence, I never imagined that I would be the person calling a hotline for help. But I am so glad that I did call YWCA Missoula because the help they provided was truly life-changing.

My YWCA advocate met me at the local hospital while I was still reeling from the assault. Together, we assessed my situation and came up with a safety plan. I was relieved to learn that staying at YWCA’s shelter was a stable option for me and my girls.

Once we got to the shelter, YWCA provided me with an advocate, a safe place to stay, an emergency cell phone, support groups, and most of all, support and guidance as I moved forward with my life.

Moreover, connecting with the other residents at the shelter taught me that I was not alone. Their stories could have been my own. YWCA provided a safe space to share, vent, cry, and celebrate the small victories we each experienced in our journey. My daughters had their own children’s advocate and also attended support groups. Our experience at YWCA Missoula has helped them to make good choices about their own relationships.

I spent 60 days or so in the shelter before I was able to move my two teenage daughters and myself into our own apartment. About six years later, I reconnected with YWCA Missoula and asked how I could give back for all the incredible support I received during my time of need. They asked me to speak at the Women’s Justice Benefit Luncheon that year, and I agreed. Since then, I have prepared meals, served on committees, and was eventually invited to sit on the board of directors, which I was thrilled to accept.

My story is one of hope! My daughters are grown, I have a great job that I love, I have a supportive partner of five years, and I will never stop giving back to YWCA. I want to tell every woman who is experiencing violence that YWCA can be there for you like they were there for me. Don’t be afraid to ask for help – I’m so glad I wasn’t.

If you or someone you know is experiencing domestic violence, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline to get connected with your local YWCA or other domestic violence service provider: 1-800-799-7233.