TRIGGER WARNING: physical, sexual, emotional and financial abuse
Miriam came to the United States from her home country of Mexico to live the “American Dream” but that dream soon became a nightmare. Miriam met her now ex-husband here in the U.S. and started dating for a couple of years and then got married. She thought that she would spend the rest of her life with him. But the same man that said “I love you” soon became abusive. She suffered a lot of economical, emotional, sexual, and physical abuse at the hands of him. He knew how to manipulate her and knew when to treat her “well”. When it came time to pay the bills he would turn into the loving man she once knew and loved so much. When he was not manipulating her for money, he was trying to manipulate her for sex. He would tell her that he could easily go out and pay a prostitute $50 for sex. She could not believe what she was hearing. The abuse that Miriam experienced was taking everything out of her. Miriam recalls “Everything I was… I was shrinking and shrinking.” She got to weigh 92 pounds because of all the depression she was dealing with. She had no one to support her and his family was covering up for his abusive ways. Towards the end of their relationship, he started abusing drugs and alcohol. Miriam had enough. She knew that she had to get out of there, for herself and her two boys.
When she finally left her husband, she made it seem like she was going to work. She packed all the necessary items (clothing, documents, some photos, and of course the boys’ fish) into a backpack and left. She picked up her eldest son first and then the youngest. They all made the trip from Hayward to San Francisco. They arrived at The Rosalie House, an emergency shelter, and were finally free from the abuse. At The Rosalie House, she was able to participate in support groups and interact with other women who also had gone through Domestic Violence. She remembers laughing and having a good time in these groups. The Rosalie House referred Miriam to W.O.M.A.N., Inc.
She came to W.O.M.A.N., Inc. to receive counseling services. Miriam found it very hard to talk about what had happened to her, so she would talk about other things. She would talk about work, school, and every day problems. Even though it was hard for her to talk about the Domestic Violence she liked coming to therapy but soon had to stop coming because she had to focus on the boys, work, and school. After a year, while applying for a U-Visa, she came back to W.O.M.A.N., Inc. to receive some advocacy around translating some documents she needed in order to apply for the Visa. During that time she worked with Lupe, a former case manager for our Latina Program, for the translations and also started therapy with Elsa, an MFT Intern for our Therapy Program. Miriam once again found herself struggling to talk about the abuse she had gone through but she knew that she had to start talking about it to start healing herself. She recalls “Then the right moment came and I really started to talk it out and work with everything that was hurting me.” After every session she would feel emotionally exhausted but she knew that it was necessary. And little by little she saw a change in herself.
Today, Miriam no longer is in an abusive relationship. She is happy. She goes to school, plays with her boys (sometimes cheating a little at the games), goes to work, and smiles! She worries about paying the bills, getting the boys to school on time, and her school work. She is also proud of her two boys, who are doing very well in school. She has achieved a lot because she has not given up!
“I dedicated myself to survive…”
Miriam is a SURVIVOR.
Please consider donating to W.O.M.A.N., Inc. so that we can continue to provide essential services to survivors like Miriam. We rely on and appreciate your support.