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Sarah’s Story: Shelter Is So Much More Than a Roof

Gender-based violence comes in many forms. When most people hear the word “abuse,” they think of physical or sexual violence. But the truth is, abuse can manifest in many other ways – ways that are difficult to recognize. Sarah was afraid to talk to her husband and she covered up his bad behavior. She felt uncomfortable leaving their children at home with him and always felt better when she was away from him… but he never hit her. As Sarah describes it, she was “living in a fog.”

What Sarah was experiencing in her marriage was abuse, that came in the form of verbal, emotional, psychological and financial manipulation. Then, one night her husband laid his hands on their daughter, and she knew it was time to leave.

Sarah and her two young children left their home, a home mostly bought and paid for by Sarah with nothing but the clothes on their back. They couch surfed for months before finally being introduced to Anova’s Second Stage Housing program. This rent-geared-to-income 25-unit apartment complex offers housing to women and children who require safe, medium security, affordable housing. It’s a frontline response of care and safety that moves beyond emergency support.

Sarah and her children made a home at Second Stage. “Living with other people, you are always on your best behavior, you can’t be yourself. I was worried the kids would break something.” Anova helped Sarah furnish their new apartment and introduced her to the Family Court Support program, a program for folx who are navigating the family court system after leaving an abusive relationship. When Anova sat with Sarah in court and guided her through her separation, she was supported in a system that is inherently unequal and puts undue pressure on survivors.

Thanks to the financial support of donors like you, Sarah was not alone. We know violence is cyclical and that it has a profound effect on children long into their lives. Because of you, Sarah’s children got a fresh start. Because of you, Sarah’s story is a story of hope. Sarah is now living on her own, her children are grown and doing well and Sarah realized that she actually enjoys staying home.

Thank you for your gifts of hope and safety.