Emily’s Story

“I don’t think I can make it.”

“Coming here proves how strong you are. You are going to get through this.”

Emily and her 7 children came to the Empowerhouse shelter after enduring physical, mental, and emotional torment from her husband. For years, Emily tried to hold her marriage together for the sake of the children. A terrifying moment between her husband and teenage son would ultimately change the course of their lives.

Her son, 13 at the time, was very protective of his Mom and one night he stepped in to shield her from his stepfather. Her son could sense things were going to escalate and he wouldn’t leave his Mom’s side. Her husband’s rage turned toward her son and they started wrestling on the floor in a physical altercation until her husband had her son pinned down. The family dog came in and latched onto her husband, allowing her son to get away. He ran to the neighbor’s house and called the police. Her husband fled and eventually ended up in jail.

Emily was talking with a friend who got her thinking, “When he gets out of jail, he’s going to come looking for me.” Her friend said there is a number you can call, and gave her the Empowerhouse hotline number. Emily thought to herself, “This is hopeless. They aren’t going to have room for me and my kids.” She tried it anyway.

To her surprise and relief, Empowerhouse did have a place for her and her 7 children to go. Broken down physically and mentally exhausted, Emily was worried and scared about her future.

How would she provide for her family? Where would they live? Did her kids think she had failed them?

While in the Empowerhouse domestic violence shelter, Emily met with several Empowerhouse staff to figure out what to do next. They listened to her concerns, her fears, and supported her in the decisions she made for her family.

The Empowerhouse/RGI Employment Specialist, Maureen, met with Emily to help her with getting a job and they talked about options for going back to school. The future seemed bleak to Emily: “I’d like to be a nurse, but that’s pipe dreams. I don’t have money; I don’t know where to start; I have kids; I don’t have a place to live. I don’t have anything.”

Maureen looked at her and said “No, you’re going to do it, Girl.” Maureen believed in her and helped Emily believe in herself. She could do this. With support and encouragement, Emily successfully applied and won a scholarship to go back to school. She was accepted into the nursing program.

Finding a place to live for Emily and her 7 children was challenging, but not impossible. Emily worked with the Empowerhouse Housing Advocate to find a place that was big enough for the family and still affordable. Empowerhouse helped her get it started by using our rental assistance dollars on the deposit and rent, with some assistance continuing throughout the year. She had doubts that she could make it all work, with bills to pay, taking care of the kids, and going to school. She said “I’ll just live this fairytale as long as I can until I figure something out.” With each hurdle that presented itself, she found the strength to overcome one by one.

She says now “I’m in the Twilight Zone. I can’t believe everything that’s happened to me. I did it.”

Emily and her kids are flourishing in their new life. Emily is on her way to becoming a nurse and fulfilling her dreams. The kids’ grades have improved and they are doing well in school. They are out of the crisis; and seeing their mom succeed in school has been a great role model for them. Everyone is much happier now in a home filled with peace. Emily proved to herself that she has the tenacity to survive and provide a better future for her family. She has hope and built a new life filled with dignity, respect, and safety.


If you know someone who needs help, remember: it is all about the first step. You are not alone. There is help and support available by calling the Empowerhouse 24/7 Hotline number: 540-373-9373.

Help a Mother like Emily overcome domestic violence and get back on her feet by making a donation today.