A Survivor NOT a Victim
“Jane” is from a small town in South Dakota. She remembers a childhood filled with fighting, uncertainty and excuses. Her mother, a woman “Jane” describes as quiet and gentle, was always trying to “keep the peace.” Jane remembers her father often yelling at her mother and calling her names. She suspects her father was physically violent with her mother; but if that happened it was very well hidden from “Jane” and her siblings. She vowed she would NEVER allow anyone to treat her that way.
As soon as she graduated from high school “Jane” couldn’t wait to move out of her family home and start a life with her high school sweetheart. The two married and within the first year child number one was on the way. She lost that baby due to complications during the pregnancy. Soon after, she learned she was pregnant again, but this child was also born very premature and didn’t survive. “Jane’s” husband thought they should move to Minnesota where he had a good job opportunity and they could try to “start over.”
Things were good in their new home at first and she felt like the grief was slowly healing. Then her husband began drinking with the guys after work. He was home later and later. “Jane” said, “I found myself making excuses for his behavior to ‘keep the peace,’ just like my mother.”
On those rare occasions when “Jane” would try to confront her husband about his drinking and late night absences, he became loud and combative. She remembers him telling her that if she were a better wife, he would want to come home. Things went on like this for some time.
“Jane” says she will never forget the first time her husband hit her. She says, “I was so hurt and ashamed (and scared).” Soon the drinking, name calling and violence were a regular occurrence.
She had been in and out of the workforce throughout the course of their relationship and she was worried how she would support herself; but decided she couldn’t take it anymore and she filed for a restraining order and left. (She chooses not to share the details.)
It was around this time that “Jane” saw a flyer for Life-Work Planning Center. She attended the personal growth series. She says, “I learned that I have value and something to offer.” Through some career exploration during her time with Life-Work Planning Center, she also discovered how much she loved to work with kids. For safety reasons, “Jane” made the decision to move from the area.
It has been a few years since “Jane” received services. She called recently to say thank you and to let us know that she has been working as a paraprofessional in a grade school. She agreed to share her story anonymously.
“Jane” says she prefers to think of herself as a survivor and not a victim. I couldn’t agree more!
– Sarah Torvick, Peer Counselor