“You must have done something very wrong to make him behave that way.”
That is how one therapist reacted to Deb, a domestic abuse survivor, during a treatment session. Deb had just related how, during a recent outburst, her husband had thrown a television through a wall, broke furniture, and shattered windows in their house.
SheGives members were moved by Deb’s story at the final non-profit event of the year. Representing The Second Step, a non-profit on the SheGives slate, Deb shared her story of how she, a well-off, educated woman, first met her husband, a banking executive. She said, “There was a lot that I didn’t know about him, about red flags, and domestic violence relationships.”
She was trapped in the abusive relationship for decades before realizing that she needed to escape from what on the outside looked like an ideal life. But Deb struggled to find help from doctors and other professionals. “They didn’t see it,” she said. “They didn’t talk about abuse.”
That’s when she discovered The Second Step. There, she found one-on-one counseling, legal help, and safety planning during the most critical–and dangerous–period in an abusive relationship: when the survivor escapes the situation.
Founded in 1992 to help domestic abuse survivors find long-term housing, The Second Step provides comprehensive programming for survivors of domestic violence.
Since its founding, the non-profit has evolved to adapt to the complex needs of the people they serve. They offer residential programs, a therapeutic after school program, and youth and prevention programs.
It isn’t enough to help survivors escape abuse and find housing, though. “This is a community issue,” said The Second Step’s Deputy Director, Matthew Swoveland.
That is why they have also provided community programming since 2006 to help survivors overcome the long term consequences of abuse. The community programs provide a bridge from the moment of crisis to long-term mentoring and peer support.
It is these programs that give abuse survivors like Deb the type of sustained and long-term support so desperately needed: “[The Second Step] was where I began the hard work that ultimately led to my healing,” Deb said.
Deb described meeting women from all walks of life at The Second Step and learning that she was not alone. She continues to receive support and counseling, and has also had opportunities to give back to other survivors.
Deb implored SheGives members to continue supporting The Second Step and their essential work: last year, they housed 24 families and 43 children, and 240 adults and 374 children participated in community services programs.
She described a donation to The Second Step as “One of the wisest and most impactful” investments you can make. “I’m not overstating my situation when I tell you that The Second Step helped to save my life,” Deb said.
SheGives founder Kirstan Barnett also urged members to stay involved during this crucial time: “I know that everyone feels tapped out,” she said. “But now is the time to step up.”
You can learn more about the work that The Second Step is doing at their website.