Trigger Warning
This story may contain descriptions of physical and sexual violence that may be upsetting. Please consider your triggers and well-being before reading. Seek help if needed.

This is my story

This Next Door Solutions client agreed to share her story with us for our 50th-anniversary Survivor Story series.

The police report had the basics: my name, the department’s logo, and my statement, neatly typed. But there was more: it included Next Door Solutions’ information. I am eternally grateful it did.

I kept the phone number but did not use it… until the abuse escalated, and I became more scared. I feared for my life. But more importantly, I feared for my son’s life.

I needed the basics: shelter, food, and safety. That’s what you typically think about. How to survive. As the security doors closed behind me at the Shelter Next Door, I felt relief. My boyfriend would not be able to break through and hurt me. Never again. The little things; soap, shampoo, and toothpaste-made me realize I would be taken care of. I hadn’t slept in bunk beds since I was young, but I slept peacefully. Safely. And not just me—toys and slides in the playground helped my son through the ordeal as well.

But it all began with that call. I was scared to call at first, not knowing if my boyfriend would find out or if someone would tell him. The police had not taken me seriously. Sometimes they did not believe me. But when I dialed the Next Door Solutions 24/7 Hotline, I could tell and feel the person on the other line was not just taking a call. They were listening to me. And for the first time, they were believing me.

Next Door Solutions provided more than just the basics: counseling was desperately needed for me to pick myself up and move forward. I did not just need to survive… I also needed to thrive. They invited me to talk and they listened. They did not judge. I was taught and shown it was not my fault. I needed convincing; my boyfriend had pounded it into me that it was my fault and I-not him, the abuser-was to blame. I needed safety, Next Door Solutions was there.

Through Next Door Solutions, I have learned how to help others in my situation. Over the years I have shown others how to obtain and understand restraining orders and shared resources for domestic violence victims. My strength has overcome my fear; I am not scared to share my experiences with others.

I felt not just a desire but also an obligation to inform others. During Violence Awareness Week, I spoke about my experiences on a television broadcast. Esther Peralez-Dieckmann, Executive Director of Next Door Solutions to Domestic Violence, was by my side. It is thanks to Next Door Solutions’ staff and advocates that I found this strength.

Since then, I have shared my experiences at Planned Parenthood meetings, Next Door Solutions’ fundraisers, and intern training sessions. I stress it is essential to be believed—it is not enough just to listen. Victims don’t just talk; they confide in others in the search for safety. Anyone who does not listen or believe sets us back.

My face bore the scars and marks of abuse. In 2018, I underwent reconstructive facial surgeries to fix the physical damages thanks to a referral from Next Door Solutions. My book, Bracing Faith, brings to light the entire scope of feelings that I felt during that trauma. I am forever grateful to Officers Isais and Weis for saving my life when I was held hostage. My ex-boyfriend was convicted to prison for a decade, where he cannot hurt me or others.

These experiences with Next Door Solutions have shaped me to be who I am today, a survivor and a warrior bringing hope to other survivors who need it. Although challenges remain, I can face them knowing I have the support from Next Door Solutions.