As many of you may know, October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, a time to bring attention to an issue that impacts millions of people each year. According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, on average nearly 20 people per minute are physically abused by an intimate partner in the United States. During one year, this equates to more than 10 million women and men. In addition to physical abuse, psychological abuse is another form of domestic violence that is often unrecognized.

There are many reasons a family or individual may become homeless and sometimes, it is a result of domestic violence. As October comes to a close, in recognition of Domestic Violence Awareness Month, we want to share with you Dominique’s* story – one of incredible resilience.

In 2016, Dominique and her husband moved from Chicago to Arizona with the hopes of starting a new life together in a new state. As a licensed chef, Dominque had plenty of job opportunities on the horizon and was able to keep her job as a makeup artist because the company she worked for had business in Arizona. They purchased a home together and things were going well until 2017, when Dominque and her husband had an altercation. Dominque feared for her life when her husband threatened her verbally and fractured her eye socket. She instantly fled their new home and went back to Chicago to file for a divorce. When she returned to Arizona to claim her home and possessions, her husband had tenants living in the home they had purchased together, and she had nowhere to go.

On top of not having a place to stay, she was let go from her job as a makeup artist because of her facial disfigurement from the injury her husband had caused. She stayed with a friend in Tempe for a short time and lived in her car until she found out about the Halle Women’s Center. Just this August, Dominique entered the Halle Women’s Center. When she first arrived, she said she was in an extremely fragile and emotional state but was welcomed with open arms by each of the staff.

Dominque was ready to get back into the workforce and with help from her case manager and the Workforce Development Team, she landed a handful of job interviews. They provided her with transportation and nice clothes for her interviews. Dominque was so grateful for this help and it really paid off because she was able to land three great paying jobs working in the food and customer service industries.

“I couldn’t have overcome the challenges I was facing without housing,” Dominque said. “That was the number one thing Halle provided to me that helped me feel more secure and confident. I knew I had somewhere to go after work and to prepare for work, and I wouldn’t have been able to accomplish what I did without the housing and transportation they provided me.”

Today, Dominque is working hard and saving up money for her own apartment and a car. She is looking for new apartments and plans on exiting the Halle Women’s Center next month. She hopes to one day come back and volunteer to help other victims of domestic violence at UMOM to encourage them through her story.

“The Halle Women’s Center is not just a shelter, this is a family,” Dominque said. “You do well when you know people care. You try harder when you know people care and you succeed more when you are encouraged. When I came here I had low self-esteem, no encouragement and no place to go.”

*Names have been changed to protect identities.