United Way of Jackson County empowers women who are survivors of domestic violence.
These women don’t want to live this horrific life. They don’t want their children growing up to think this is normal. They don’t have family to offer sanctuary. They don’t have money to fund an escape. They are secluded in a nightmare of endless abuse with nowhere to hide and no one to help. They are trapped.
United Way of Jackson County fights for their safety and stability by supporting legal assistance for low-income persons. Through this program, victims are able to obtain divorces, custody, stable housing and assistance with other related issues. By working with Legal Services of South Central Michigan, we ensure vulnerable individuals and families have an opportunity to achieve housing stability and maintain self-sufficiency just like Belle. Belle found her courage, and your support allowed her to find the resources she needed to protect her family.
A young mother of two, Belle is a survivor. She was young when she had her first child, barely 18. She didn’t love her boyfriend, but he had a job and she had no other way to provide for her baby. She dropped out of school, moved in with him and his family. He lived in the upper level of his parent’s house.
It was bad.
Normally Belle couldn’t tell what was going on downstairs with his parents. However, on the nights when it got loud, it was too much to handle. The entire dwelling was filled with yelling and screaming back and forth, sometimes for minutes, sometimes for hours. Those weren’t the worst sounds though. There was no mistaking the sound that shocked every inch of that home. She would hear it only once on those terrible nights, but it would echo in her head endlessly. She would hear the yelling, she would hear the screaming, and then she would flinch when she heard the “SLAP!” Silence followed the slap, uncomfortable and unwelcomed. Then she’d hear low, quiet whimpering.
This happened regularly.
Soon her boyfriend found a job that brought them to Jackson. She didn’t want to move far from her family, but she wanted out of that house. Within a year, Belle and her boyfriend were married with another child on the way. Things were okay. Life was tight. He worked a lot, and she took care of the kids.
Usually, when he came home, he was tired. He didn’t want to be bothered with things. Slowly he was turning into his dad. He got more annoyed with the little things; little things turned into big things, and arguments eventually turned into screaming matches. Then one night the slap that resonated in her mind landed on the side of her face.
This happened regularly.
She was far from family. She didn’t have any friends. She didn’t have any money. She was alone with her two young children.
Then came a particular morning. It seemed no different from any of the other mornings, but it was. She finally had enough. Ten minutes after he left for work, she grabbed the kids and walked out the door. That day she found sanctuary in a local shelter. Soon she was connected with a lawyer from Legal Services of South Central Michigan. They fought for Belle. They helped her file for divorce, win sole legal and physical custody of her children, and they ensured Belle had stable housing. Belle’s life is still difficult. She utilizes services such as child care, food assistance and job training. She is working hard, starting from scratch, making a stable and safe life for her family in Jackson.
Over the last two years, 98% of the clients with this United Way funded program achieved successful outcomes, resulting in safety, stability, and access to basic needs. United, we fight for Belle and other victims who need help because to live better we must all LIVE UNITED.