The scope of domestic violence is vast and often hidden behind closed doors, leaving victims feeling trapped with nowhere to turn.  But for Megan*, enough was enough.

In a phone call with Family Shelter Service’s 24-hour hotline, Megan courageously shared her story with a counselor who was able to coach her on the safest way to leave her abuser and find refuge. Soon after, she began planning how she and her children would escape.

On a cold November morning, Megan hastily bundled up her two boys and began the journey that would change the course of their future. Once her family was comfortably settled at Family Shelter Service’s facility, Megan was able to start rebuilding her life.

She sought the expert assistance of one of the organization’s court advocates who accompanied her to the courthouse, where she was granted an order of protection from her abuser. She and her children also participated in group and individual counseling.

Finally, Megan was able to focus on healing, knowing that her children were safe and able to sleep without fear.

A shelter in-need

Though Family Shelter Service was eager to open its doors to Megan and her family, at the time, they were facing their own battle.

Due to the state budget crisis, the shelter was dealing with with the possibility of losing funding for vital programs for survivors of domestic abuse. With limited resources and capacity, they were forced to turn away almost 15,000 people during the impasse. This means many victims inevitably returned to the abusive relationships they were trying to flee.

“The situation was dire,”said Lauren DeSimone, director of advancement at Family Shelter Service, based in the western suburb of Downers Grove.

During this time of great need, United Way of Metro Chicago was able to offer the shelter financial support, allowing them to not only maintain, but expand life-saving services to survivors. This included building more rooms to house survivors and hiring more counselors to address clients’ mental health needs. At a time when five women in DuPage County had recently lost their lives at the hands of their partners, these resources were of the utmost importance.

“Without the support of United Way, more victims of domestic violence could have died,” Lauren simply stated.

Support safety programs

We at United Way of Metro Chicago fight for the safety of all individuals. To do so, we partner with agencies, like Family Shelter Service, who empower those impacted by domestic violence.

The work of our community partners truly makes a difference, and cuts to social services can greatly impact an organization’s ability to continue providing vital life-saving service. Make a gift to our safety net impact work today to support survivors across the entire Chicago region.

*While all stories are true, names and/or images may have been changed to protect an individual’s privacy.