Cheryl’s Letter

he following are excerpts from a letter received by Women’s Resource Center in May, 2003:

I recently received a letter and phone call from a friend residing in Oceanside regarding an article in an Oceanside newspaper for fundraising for the Women’s Resource Center. In our discussion, she told me it sounded so familiar and asked if some of the specifics were similar to an article written in 1979.

That article twenty-four years ago was about a woman escaping through the doggie door of her kitchen back door in Leucadia in the middle of the night to save her life from an abusive, drunken husband. The storyline was given anonymously to help raise money to open the Women’s Resource Center’s battered women’s shelter and defray costs to transport the woman in the article to a safe place.

There was much to process and quickly. An attorney was brought in (pro bono) to start divorce proceedings. There was a medical checkup, police reports and photographs, and a police escort to the woman’s home to get a suitcase of clothing. The woman was placed in several “safe houses” (private homes as there was no shelter) before she could be placed in a shelter in Marin County. That woman was me.

I stayed in Marin for approximately two months, there to heal, finalize a name change, seek counseling and piece together a shattered life. The years have passed and the nightmares are long gone and physical and emotional scars are healed through awareness, spirituality and faith of self-forgiveness.

There were many volunteers and case workers who unconditionally showed compassion and genuine concern for my safety and well-being. My memories of their kindness and structure remain in my heart all these years later. I know if I had not had the help to break free of that cycle of violence which enveloped my soul, I would not be writing you this letter today.

I have never been physically or mentally abused or in fear for my life since I left that home in September, 1979. My letter today is just to thank you for my life and my sanity. When I knew nothing of how to care for my self-esteem, your Resource Center helped plant a seed. The women in your organization helped change the course of my life. I came to you battered and broken, living the façade of luxury and glamour. The home on the bluffs, real estate assets, designer clothes, surrounded by prosperity. It was all so surreal because it was the hidden death sentence-one that forced me to attempt suicide in that summer in 1979 and then finally to leave one chilly night, barefooted, smattered in my own blood, black eyes, broken nose and ribs, after having been thrown downstairs and dragged through the house by my hair. The only quiet way of escape was out that doggie door to a kindly neighbor who had waited for the day I would come for help.

I hope this letter will in some way validate the purpose and need for Women’s Resource Center and shelters like yours to remain havens for women to find the help and goodwill that was so graciously shown me many years ago.