A future of freedom

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The Women's Freedom Center

2017 is a year we will hold in our collective memory for its unrelenting turbulence. Together, we endure the tension as we await the next shocking news report, the next jarring communication. We steel ourselves and fight the normalization of unfathomable acts and language, weighing their demoralizing impact upon our nation. In the face of such dispiriting violence, how can we find the resilience to abide and the strength to prevail?

At the Women's Freedom Center, survivors of abuse contemplate this question every day.

In spite of exhaustive danger, unpredictability, and isolation, women dip deep into their inner reserves to envision a future beyond the next harrowing event. Their courage to take action and trust in the possibility of safety and well-being is an inspiration to us all.

Together with our donors, we have done some powerful work in our community this year. Our generous supporters made it possible to open a second shelter for women fleeing domestic violence and sexual assault. Donor funds helped us respond to over 1,700 crisis phone calls, provide hundreds of hours of support and advocacy, emergency financial and housing assistance, access to legal representation, transportation and childcare to 638 women, 17 men, and 478 children who have been abused. At this year's current pace, we expect those numbers to double.

Sometimes it's hard to remember that each of the numbers counted is a person in our community, one of us, in need of support, resources, or understanding as she taps into her own resilience, strength, and creativity. One survivor recently stopped by to give us a thank you letter and gift. She invited us to share with you why she donated.

"When I made that call to the Women's Freedom Center and asked for help, they picked me up from the police station and then my daughter from school and opened their doors for us. I had nothing with me, no credit cards, cell phone, clothes, nothing, and my husband was threatening to

have me deported. I had no one — I had just lost my father from a heart attack and my mom from a brain aneurysm. Everything was happening all at once — I had a domestic abuse case, criminal case, a divorce case and an immigration case.

The Freedom Center advocated for me at court, assisted with my immigration status, connected me to resources and benefits and helped me find a nice place to live — I don't know what I would have done without their help. I'm very, very grateful for a place like the Women's Freedom Center. I now call it my home.

I stop by the center once in a while to get advice from these lovely people. It's not just a facility, but real people with love, respect, and empathy. My daughter and I recently donated a piece of art to them that we had made — it's something really special that comes from our adversities, overcoming difficult times and also feeling free and loved."

We'd welcome your help to make our community one in which violence is not tolerated. Any gift-amount allows your money to be a revolutionary force for change, and says you believe in a future of freedom.

It supports our vital work for another year: beyond funding direct crisis intervention 24-hours per day, donor support also furthers our broader mission as a social change organization, providing year-round youth outreach and community education. We need to raise $25,000 by the end of the year, and appreciate every dollar donated. Checks can be sent to P.O. Box 933, Brattleboro, VT, 05302, or donate online at womensfreedomcenter.net/get-involved.

The Women's Freedom Center is the local organization in Windham and Southern Windsor County working to end domestic and sexual violence.

Follow us on Facebook at Women's Freedom Center and at www.womensfreedomcenter.net. You can reach an advocate on our 24-hour crisis line at 802-254-6954.

The opinions expressed by columnists do not necessarily reflect the views of the Brattleboro Reformer.

The Women's Freedom Center is the local organization in Windham and Southern Windsor County working to end domestic and sexual violence. Follow us on Facebook at Women's Freedom Center and at www.womensfreedomcenter.net. You can reach an advocate on our 24-hour crisis line at 802-254- 6954.

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