Sistercare Survivor Story – Theresa

Theresa's Story

“Do you work for Sistercare?” Theresa* whispered to the woman behind the desk. It had been a long journey to get where she stood. Cloaked in an oversized jacket, an arm sling, and dark sunglasses, Theresa was determined to get what she needed. She knew that this would be the first step in getting the assistance she needed for herself and her family. Nervous and on edge, Theresa sat down, took a deep breath, and began to tell her story to a Sistercare Court Advocate.

On the outside looking in Theresa seemed to have a fairytale life with a wealthy husband, three children, a big house, and the coveted position of young wife and homemaker. Yet those closest to Theresa knew she lived a very different existence. Throughout much of her eight years of marriage, Theresa’s husband Joseph* subjected her to verbal, emotional, financial and physical abuse. Often threatened with the fear of losing custody of her children and all financial support, Theresa suffered in silence under Joseph’s control and efforts to isolate her. Unexpectedly, after years of living in fear and pain, Theresa’s world came crashing down around her. Joseph filed for divorce and later stripped Theresa of her children, her home, her money and her self-worth.

Theresa had little contact with her children after the divorce became final. She suffered from the traumatic ordeal of being emotionally and physically abused and losing her children. Then, out of the blue, Joseph called to reconcile. Theresa knew that returning to him would be the only chance to be with her children again. So, she moved back to her old home under Joseph’s reign.

As is typically the case, the cycle of interpersonal violence and trauma returned. Theresa began to believe that this would be the dreaded life she would live if she wanted to keep her children in her life. Theresa’s devotion to her children kept her seemingly anchored to Joseph’s violence and unpredictability.  One night during a beating, one of the children attempted to intervene to help Theresa, and Joseph assaulted the child too. While the other siblings looked on in terror, one of them called 911.

Theresa watched as Joseph was arrested and she considered how her children were at risk of being involved in the DSS system. She knew that things would have to change. After a friend told her about Sistercare’s services, Theresa met with a Court Advocate.

After sharing her story with the Court Advocate, the Advocate helped Theresa file for an order of protection and referred her to individual and group counseling at no cost through Sistercare. Months went by while Theresa dealt with legal issues, yet, she persisted, became employed and secured a separate home.   She was able to gain custody of her children, and today they live a life free of violence without the terror of Joseph’s abuse.

If you or someone you know needs legal support or counseling due to intimate partner violence, call Sistercare today at (803) 765-9428.

*Names have been changed to protect the survivor’s privacy.


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