Rachel came to Alexandra House seeking protection from her abuser. For four years she was the victim of physical, emotional, psychological, financial, and sexual abuse. She had been cursed at; had dishes thrown and broken at her; was beaten with belts, broomsticks, and metal hangers; and was sexually trafficked. She didn’t know what she was going to do, but with the help of an Alexandra House Legal Advocate, she filed for and was granted an Order for Protection (OFP). Legal Advocates then offered her the option to stay at Alexandra House’s emergency shelter for safety. Rachel and her two children left everything and arrived at Shelter with nothing but the clothes they were wearing, but they were safe.
During their stay at Alexandra House, Rachel learned about herself and how she had become trapped in an abusive relationship. She attended support groups, learned about abusive power and control, and gained tools to cope with the years of pain she had experienced. She worked part-time as an LPN while her kids attended school. With the support of her Alexandra House Shelter Advocate, Rachel found an apartment, and her Shelter Advocate helped her register for Safe at Home to protect her address from being found by her abuser. Even though she had regained some of her independence, she realized she still had a lot of work and healing to do.
She moved into her apartment and started meeting with an Alexandra House Housing and Supportive Services Advocate. Together they created goals to help guide the life she wanted to build with her children. Her Advocate helped her process the crises as they occurred. Her abuser stalked her on social media, hacked into her phone carrier service, and made false allegations against her to the Board of Nursing. With the support of her Advocate, Rachel felt empowered to report the OFP violations. She worked with a lawyer to clear the criminal engendered by her abuser, and she bravely shared her story with the Board of Nursing who cleared her of all concerns.
A year later, Rachel’s Advocate shared an educational scholarship opportunity with her, in line with her goals of continuing her education and career in nursing and becoming more financially self-sufficient for her children. They completed the application process and Rachel was awarded a renewable scholarship from the Women’s Independent Scholarship Program (WISP) with Alexandra House acting as the fiscal agent, per the requirements of the scholarship. The scholarship provided thousands of dollars each semester, distributed through Alexandra House, for Rachel to use toward housing, transportation, childcare, or school expenses so that she could successfully focus on her academic program. While single parenting and working, Rachel attended online and in-person classes and achieved her Associates of Science in Nursing. She was promoted to an RN within the clinic she was working at—and then reworked her budget with her Housing and Supportive Services Advocate to start saving for a home.
Her Housing and Supportive Services Advocate gave her information about Anoka County Family Assets for Independence (FAIM), which matches $3 to every $1 of savings toward a down payment for a first-time home purchase. Rachel started saving through the program and continued to strive diligently toward her multiple goals. She was granted continuing WISP scholarships to pursue her Bachelor of Science in Nursing. She met regularly with her Advocate and planned ahead for the decline of the various assistance programs she had needed to rely on in the past. As she steadily met each goal, she realized that she would never have dreamed of being in the place she was now when she first sought help from Alexandra House. Every step of the way, Alexandra House provided support, encouragement, and empowerment to get where she was today.
Four years after she bravely left her abuser and went to Alexandra House, deciding she and her children needed a violence-free life, she made an offer on a house. Her Advocate celebrated with her when the purchase agreement was signed and when she closed on her first home. Rachel proudly sent photos to her Advocate of the individual bedrooms for her children and their puppy playing in boxes as she unpacked in their new safe space. Rachel will be graduating in two months with her Bachelor of Science in Nursing. She declares that she is a survivor and is thankful for Alexandra House. She knows that with support, healing and dreams can happen.
*Names have been changed to protect the identity and safety of our clients.*