WOMEN'S HISTORY MONTH: STARTING OVER, A PATH TOWARD SELF-EMPOWERMENT
Susanne Nieves started her life over at the age of 54. For the last two years, she had been a victim of domestic violence.
The pandemic created an even more toxic environment, with small eruptions constantly happening due to limited mobility and no opportunity for space or relief from stress outside the home. In the first two months of the lockdown, the National Commission on COVID-19 and Criminal Justice found that across the U.S., the COVID-19 pandemic led to a 9.7% increase in domestic violence calls.
"The pandemic made everything 100% worse. I've had sometimes had to go into 3-4 stores to keep my household running, and family sometimes doesn't understand the effort it takes to get these things done. Then you come home with people yelling at you, or wanting to hit you, or talking to you in a derogatory way. It just makes you feel so small. My husband's favorite word for me was trash, "basura," and it hurt me to my heart. There was nowhere to go, so you're just stuck with this mask on your face and a bleeding heart," says Susanne of the impact COVID had on her situation.
After consulting with a psychiatrist about her issues at home and the physical violence caused by her husband, she was encouraged to leave and seek assistance at a local shelter. Susanne, empowered by her doctor and knowing her relationship had hit a level of no return, went and sought refuge at a local organization that connected her to The Salvation Army. Through the Community COVID Housing Program (CCHP), a program provided by the City of Houston, Harris Country, and the Coalition for the Homeless, we have connected with clients like Susanne to prevent homelessness, help find hope and rebuild amidst the pandemic. She used our services and with the help of Kiley, her Salvation Army Navigator, found an apartment that fit all her needs.
Her journey was not easy or without its continued impacts on her health, but Susanne has found the self-confidence to start over with positivity in her life and hopes to give back to the community. She is on a path toward self-empowerment and promised to continue using the resources provided to her to provide for others in the same way that we could provide for her. We celebrate her and the bravery and strength she has displayed to get her life back.
Susanne's story is one of the many women who seek shelter and resources at The Salvation Army. We are blessed to have been a part of her journey, and we couldn't help women like Susanne without your help. As we close out Women's History Month, consider helping women like Susanne start over and find a path toward self-empowerment.