Eileen's Story: "It was like I was a thing, his property."
When they were first married, she had worked as a registered nurse but after their first child was born, she wasn’t allowed to work or to leave home. “He was insanely jealous. It was like I was a thing, his property, and I belonged to him,” said Eileen. Physical abuse and isolation followed. She tried to keep it from her kids. Many years later, with her children grown, she still was only allowed to see people her husband let her see and only talk to those he let her talk to. She was a prisoner in her own home.
"Finally, the abuse reached a breaking point, said Eileen. “Either he was going to kill me and most likely himself, or I was going to kill him and then myself.” An attempt at suicide brought help from the sheriff’s office. “I was kept at a facility for the weekend. A doctor who saw me mentioned the domestic violence support group meeting at Bridges.”
At Bridges, we work with law enforcement—staff responds to the scene of an assault and offers immediate support, education, and networking with other agencies. Eileen began attending the group meetings and someone suggested she needed to stay at the shelter. Reluctant but beaten, she agreed. Upon her arrival at the shelter, she was depressed and withdrawn. With support, Eileen began studying for her return into nursing. She also began working on projects at the shelter. There, she could meet people in a safe setting, and by associating with them she slowly began to rebuild her self-esteem. Today, Eileen is again a registered nurse, owns her own home, and is now independent. “This is the real me…this is who I really am. I have to keep on reminding myself where I’ve been and what I’ve achieved. I love what I’m doing. Bridges Domestic Violence Center did this for me.”