Finding Her Voice

Myrene is a survivor of domestic violence. She doesn’t have the cuts or bruises that so many other women like her have. Instead, Myrene’s pain is deep inside, but hurts just as much.

“Throughout my entire life I felt like I had no voice and my opinion didn’t matter,” Myrene said. “I was constantly belittled and degraded. At 48 years old, I was treated like a child.”

It was that psychological and verbal abuse that brought her to the Agnes Home. This emergency shelter is run by The Salvation Army’s Anew Center, and helps victims of domestic violence, rape or sexual assault find a safe place to escape their abuser. At the center, Myrene was linked with a case worker, took part in a support group, and met other women going through similar struggles.

“For the first time in 48 years, I felt like I had a voice,” Myrene said. “These were people I could talk to which is something I’ve never had before. Their stories made me stronger and helped me deal with my abuse. I’m a totally different person today because of it.”

Myrene has since left the area to be in a safer environment, and she credits the programs and services she received here with saving her life.

“Without a doubt I wouldn’t be alive today had it not been for the remarkable men and women at the Anew Center in Jamestown,” Myrene said. “Even after leaving, the center is still a source of help and support for me. I finally have my freedom and my life.”

This story is just one of many that The Salvation Army could tell. The organization’s Residential Domestic Violence Program is supported in part through the United Way of Southern Chautauqua County. Captain John Merchant at The Salvation Army in Jamestown says there’s a critical need for these services.

“Statistics show that victims of domestic violence are in more danger once they’ve left the abusive relationship,” Merchant said. “What our program does is intervene with emergency shelter, thus keeping our clients safe and allowing them time to get back on their feet financially and socially.”

Merchant says 95 percent of adults admitted to the program will complete an intake and create an individualized safety plan. Furthermore, 75 percent of families that go through the program will find safe and affordable housing.

“This program is saving lives,” Merchant said. “We don’t exist just for the short-term either. We are here to help these victims heal. This is a long process sometimes, but it’s worth it. They come into our shelter as victims, but leave stronger and ready to take on the next challenge of their lives.”

For Myrene, the next challenge she’ll face is now bearable thanks to the support she received at The Salvation Army’s Anew Center.

“I know there will be challenges in my life, but I feel like I’m better equipped to take on those challenges. I don’t have to take the abuse anymore. I don’t have to be a victim anymore. The women I’ve met and the support I’ve received has showed me that I do matter, that I do have a voice, and that I can make a difference.”

When you give to United Way of Southern Chautauqua County, you too are making a difference. You’re helping women just like Myrene find their voice, so they can heal and share their story, and perhaps save another life.