Featured Survivors – Diane and Wendy
It was 1984. Wendy was 8-years-old, and her brothers were 5-years and 4-months-old. Although she was young, she knew that something was not right at home.
One morning, her mother, Diane, was watching an episode of Kelly & Company in which a woman shared details about her abuser. Diane thought the woman was talking about her husband, Wendy’s stepfather. She and the children had been enduring physical, emotional and financial abuse for the last three years. “He told me how to walk, talk, stand and think,” Diane recalls, “He also tried to run Wendy over with the car.”
When the television program shared HAVEN’s crisis line number, Diane wrote it down and ran to the pay phone to call as soon as she could. She borrowed money from the owner of the party store on the corner and called her sister to pick her and the children up. They were on their way to safety.
When they arrived at HAVEN, Diane breathed a sigh of relief. “I was so happy to be there and not be afraid. You could wake up and make your kids breakfast, talk with the other women, make your coffee. Be away and free and be who you are,” she shared.
“The most important thing for me was that my kids were safe and happy.”
Wendy, who is now a registered nurse, has a loving husband and two children of her own, distinctly recalls being happy at HAVEN. “The family style mealtimes were the best. All the moms would cook together, and we would all sit together. I have awesome memories of playing, dressing up, and playing baseball. We had a lot of fun.”
“We felt at home there. We felt safe there. My mom felt so good and empowered by all that she learned,” Wendy remembers. “I met my best friend the first night, she had similar circumstances, and we kept in touch, wrote letters and stayed connected. We still talk today.”
During their 30-day stay, Diane’s counselors helped her understand her worth. “They told me every day, ‘I want you to go look yourself in the mirror and tell yourself you’re a worthwhile person and do something special for yourself today,’” she said. “They let me know I was ok and that I wasn’t alone. They were sent from heaven. They taught me a lot.”
With the help of HAVEN, Diane embraced her courage, took action and changed the trajectory of her and her children’s lives – from living in fear to living free. She also bravely persevered through the legal system until her abuser went to jail.