Help The Montgomery County Women's Center Rescue and Assist Abuse Survivors; Recap of Their Open Your Purse For Change Fundraising Luncheon
THE WOODLANDS, TX -- The Montgomery County Women’s Center primarily helps victims of domestic violence and sexual assault during the lowest points of their life. Last year, the Women’s Center answered 49,632 calls, which was record breaking. By the end of September 2020, they had already answered 49,760 calls.
“The Montgomery County District Attorney's Office has seen a 40% increase in the number of domestic violence cases that they are prosecuting and pursuing,” said Montgomery County Women’s Center CEO Sarah Raleigh at the nonprofit’s annual Open Your Purse For Change Fundraising Luncheon October 23 (View photos from the event here).
“So while COVID has been horrifying for all of us, it has certainly been extremely challenging in the population that we serve,” she said.
Marilyn, a mother, a Program Specialist, a Missing Child Coordinator, and a domestic abuse survivor, shared her personal story of how the Montgomery County Women’s Center saved her life. The following are her words:
“Domestic violence is a pressing public health crisis affecting 37.0 million families a year in America. On average, a victim attempts to leave seven times before finally leaving for good. My name is Marilyn and this is my story.
I was raised in Brownsville, Texas by a very loving and healthy family. After high school I married the love of my life. However, the marriage was not the fairy tale that I envisioned. For 15 years, I suffered emotional mental and physical abuse. But the greatest gift my ex husband gave me were my two sons. For 13 years I was a stay at home mom, mother, wife, and his business partner. I happily provided my family with a nurturing home. But sadly, as a result, I gave up on my own dreams of an education and a career. During this time, my ex husband used abuse to deteriorate my self-esteem, making me believe that I did not deserve to be happy. He also isolated me from family and friends to maintain power and control. But the worst was yet to come. While pregnant with my younger son, he attacked me and shoved me into the wall. I called the police and he was arrested. After that, I began fearing for my life. We stayed together for a few more years. Then, in 2010, despite disapproval from my family, I built up the courage to flee with my 10 and six year old sons. The divorce was finally finalized in 2011. I was awarded custody of my two sons and my ex husband retained ownership of our family business. In 2013, he petitioned the court to reevaluate the custody orders and he won joint managing conservatorship and I was evicted from our family home.
I was homeless couch-surfing with family and friends, and I was at the lowest point in my life. I lost my voice, my marriage and my home. I had nothing, not even a home. Shortly after that, I began dating a man who followed the same pattern. Although this was a short-term relationship, I was able to leave immediately. This was a wake up call for me and I realized I needed to get help.
My attorney referred me to the Montgomery County Women's Center counseling program. I received counseling and safety planning assistance for about six months before I applied to the Reaching Pines Transitional Housing Program. I will never forget the conversation with my counselor right before I decided to apply. I was ready to give up on life. I was ready to give up on me. My counselor, Mr. Curtis, told me, while I sat there in the corner in a ball crying and ready to give up - I'll never forget his words. He said, “you can choose to let this man destroy you, or you can join this program and rescue yourself.”
I lived at Reaching Heights from 2014 until 2018. I attended weekly counseling, case management, financial coaching assistance, and life skills groups. The supportive services I received at Reaching Pines allowed me to build a support network, increase my earning potential, develop new coping skills and save money. I was also a recipient of the Montgomery County Women's Center Scholarship Program, which allowed me to obtain an Associate's Degree from a local college.
Reaching Pines built my confidence, and for the first time in my life I had peers who truly understood me. It made the difficult times not feel so bad, and I realized it would pass and that I was strong and resilient. Counseling also taught me what feeling safe was like.I learned to love and appreciate myself.
I attained an entry-level position with the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services. Several promotions later, I am now a Program Specialist for the Regional Director, and I am also the Missing Child Coordinator for Region 16. My dream is to become a master's level social worker, and one day, I'll make it.
Both my children are also thriving … each day I realize how truly blessed I am to be alive. I know that the Montgomery County Women’s Center saved my life. And I'm going to repeat that because the Montgomery County Women's Center truly saved my life. Recently a co-worker of mine was not so lucky. Her abuser killed her, leaving behind a small young son.
My heart breaks for her and every family affected by domestic violence. And I am here today on behalf of the Montgomery County Women's Center to ask for your continued support in the name of survivors everywhere. Finally, I would like to share with you the wise words of my Montgomery County Women's Center therapist; your current situation is not your final destination and there is hope.”
Donate to the Montgomery County Women’s Center here.
Find further information and ways to help, here.
Call their 24-HOUR CRISIS HOTLINE at 936-441-7273