Thank you to Angelic for sharing your story with us!
We are so thankful to Angelic for sharing her experience as a YWCA Spokane client with us. The following shares, in Angelic’s own words, how she came to YWCA Spokane and how her life has changed since she began participating in our programs.
“Coming to YWCA Spokane, I had been in a relationship for 6, almost 7 years. I was married to my husband, who has since passed away, so that’s been part of the journey here, walking through his death. He was my abuser too. It was a complicated, convoluted experience.
I started out at YWCA getting referred to the Essentials program. In the past, I had used the shelter a couple times, because I was trying to leave my husband through the years. It was that set cycle of violence—the “honeymoon” would be over, so I would go stay at the shelter. I did that three or four times throughout my two pregnancies during our marriage.
Then my husband started to get sick, so I stayed in the relationship. In June of 2017, he went into the hospital. It was then that I realized that the atmosphere had really changed in the home. At the time, I was working as the food director of a non-profit here in Spokane. I went to the Board and told them there’s been a lot of abuse in the home. They helped me so that when my husband got out of the hospital he couldn’t come home. That really upset him, and he cut me off financially. So I went and applied at DSHS, and found out that I had exhausted my TANF. I started working with a DV Advocate at YWCA Spokane who helped me gain access to TANF support due to my domestic violence situation. After that YWCA helped me enroll into their Essentials program.
When I got to the YWCA I was very broken and scared, very abused and battered in every sense, physically, spiritually, mentally, emotionally battered and worn out.
The first couple of weeks I didn’t understand how sacred this space is, but I grew to rely upon YWCA Spokane. It was my safest spot. Kim Choat [Director of the Women’s Opportunity Center] is just this crusader of safety, like the Joan of Arc of the Y. She creates such a safe space for women to come here to share our burdens, speak our truths, and not be subject to judgment. The system is so broken, in my opinion, that it sets us up to fail from the get-go; and the Essentials program sets women up to succeed. It was a super safe space.
After I started Essentials, my husband was released from the hospital. He couldn’t come home, so he had to live with his mom. I still saw him every day because he was so sick, and he had lost the use of his legs. In December 2017, he had to go to Assisted Living. He was still verbally abusive. At first, I was scared to share that I was spending time with him. I was on a TANF grant and the only stipulation was that I couldn’t live with him again. It was so freeing to come to my Essentials class and say ‘yes he’s my abuser but he’s also dying.’ We had no idea he was going to pass away in 5 months.
I got an extension for TANF through the Essentials program for 12 weeks. Then my husband decided to make me the beneficiary of his Social Security without asking me, so I was kicked out of all of the State programs, including TANF. Thankfully, I was immediately enrolled with Chris and the BFET program at the YWCA so that I could stay here.
I’ve used almost every one of the services here and it’s changed the trajectory of my life. I was thinking this morning, if it wasn’t for YWCA I can honestly say I don’t even know if I’d be alive. I was ready to give up. This place has been a huge part of changing the course of my life. It’s the people here. It’s been amazing.
Our Sister’s Closet has abundantly blessed my life with goods that are gently used. It’s boosted my confidence and let me look and feel amazing. Half my wardrobe is from their free rack, and it helps me feel equipped to be in the world. It’s the little things. It was my daughter’s 14th birthday and I didn’t have any money, so they helped me get her a gift.
Chris Cross [Director of YWCA Spokane’s BFET and Women to Work program] has been amazing with getting me a resume and just listening without judgment. I showed up to her office after I couldn’t make it to an interview and just told her I’m not ready. She asked me what can she do to help and I asked for a class that would help with barriers to employment and the next thing I know she’s made a Barrier to Employment Class.
That validates me as a person and changes my perspective, and lets me know I do matter. What I suggest counts. It boosts my confidence enough to show up.
Just a few weeks ago Spokane Community College shows up at the Women’s Opportunity Center to offer a career transitions class, and now I’m starting college next week! I never in a million years would have thought I could start school!
Last year, I resigned my position at the Ministry House and was getting my section 8 voucher. Which I got in three weeks! In between, my children and I were homeless at St.Margerets. Thankfully during that time, we were adopted through the YWCA’s Hope For The Holidays program and my children had the best holiday that any of them had ever had. Whoever adopted us filled our wishlist with everything we asked and more. It helped get us hand-ups, things that help me climb out of this deep dark hole where I felt I didn’t deserve anything. I felt like I didn’t belong anywhere and I wasn’t worthy of anything good. So these resources through the Y are like a ladder helping me climb out of this poverty I’ve been in.
With the Y’s counseling center, I am in their EMDR program, and it is the best therapy I’ve ever done. I’ve been trying for 25 years to overcome the adversity of my childhood.
I’m still on EMDR, which is profoundly changing my mental well-being. It’s really hard work but I wouldn’t change it for the world because it’s cleaning out my soul. I feel clearer than I have for years. Melva [YWCA Spokane Licensed Counselor] was an angel, she helped my daughter walk through the abuse she suffered and her dad’s death. Recently, my daughter graduated from therapy from here!
In March 2018, they began to offer trauma-informed yoga to us. That’s changed my life. I was suffering from a lot of physical ailments. I couldn’t move right, there was a hump on my back, I couldn’t sit up straight, there was a lot of chronic issues. I’ve been in yoga for almost a year now and it’s changed my life. I can sit up straight, I mean it’s literally changing my physical being.
I’m getting my strength back, my balance back both physically and emotionally, and getting to a place where I can connect with my body.
After all the trauma and abuse I just started disassociating from my body. The first session of yoga I cried the whole time because I did not know how much pain I was really in, and I cried from being in a place where it’s safe to move again.
One of the things I love about this place [YWCA Spokane] is alumni are always welcome. We can come, have a meal, visit and share, and we are always welcome to be here. Whatever we need to do we’re always welcome here. So I have consistently been here for the better part of a year and a half. I’m here 2-4 times a week.
My husband passed away in May of last year. This place held me up and walked through it with me. Despite the fact that he was my abuser, I loved him, and I watched him die a slow painful death. By the end, he couldn’t talk or walk or move his head. It was horrible. I could show up here any day after spending time with him and sit in one of these chairs and ball my eyes out and everyone in this room had empathy and compassion for me. Each program has played its part in propelling me to a different place!
I’m thankful for the space, the place, and for the people. It’s just been one amazing service after another. It’s all worked together to bring about this harmony in my life. Between the counseling, Essentials, BFET, computer lab, all of it together has made a huge difference for me personally. It has so radically helped me.
It’s important women, and men too, have a safe space to come, heal, and reclaim life. I want people to know this is a safe space. It was hard to take responsibility and work hard, but this environment helped me want to show up. I told myself if I just keep showing up things are going to change, but now I realize it’s me who has to change, the change has to happen in me. I finally have learned how to participate in my own life. There’s been a lot of grace, empathy, and compassion here, and I have not ever once felt judged here.
I am no longer that broken wounded person that really believed there was no hope for me. Being here on a regular basis has changed that outlook for me, I believe there is hope for me and others, and I believe I am worthy of love and respect as every other human being.
-Angelic Ewing, YWCA Spokane Client
YWCA Spokane Is Here For You
If you are experiencing abusive situations within your intimate partner relationships, whether it be physical, mental, emotional, financial, spiritual, or otherwise, please reach out to us. Our 24-Hour Domestic Violence Helpline: 509-326-CALL(2255) is always available, or you can email firstname.lastname@example.org at any time. Learn more about YWCA Spokane’s services here.