When Kaitlin became pregnant with her third child, her husband began to be emotionally abusive. As often happens, the abuse soon escalated into physical violence and the day she collapsed from a beating, Kaitlin knew she had to leave.
Fearful for the safety of her unborn child, as well as her two other children, Kaitlin didn’t know where to turn. Briefly, they were able to move in with a friend, but her husband would frequently appear outside their home and threaten her. Seeking shelter was her only alternative.
“When Kaitlin came to Family Shelter Service she was nearing her due date,” said Lisa Horne, Family Shelter’s Assistant Shelter Director. “One of the first things we had to do was make a birthing plan, especially since Kaitlin had a limited support system. Fortunately, a family at her church agreed to care for her children while she was in the hospital.”
Kaitlin soon gave birth and both the shelter staff and other individuals in shelter were enthralled with the beautiful little baby boy. “A lot of the teenagers in shelter got very excited and wanted to help out with the new baby,” Lisa said. “Kaitlin was very nervous at first, but soon became more comfortable with all the attention; it took a little time for us to build trust, so we had to be respectful every step of the way. We have to look out not only for the physical safety of people in shelter, but their emotional safety as well.”
Eventually Kaitlin began to let others hold the beautiful little baby boy who was a delight for everyone in shelter. “We loved being part of the first little smiles and ‘coos,'” Lisa said.
When it came time for Kaitlin and her children to leave shelter, the family at her church generously offered her and her children a place to live in their home. Once her children get older, Kaitlin hopes to return to the nursing school she had attended before coming to shelter, so that she can find employment and a home of their own.
While we all hope for a more peaceful society where women like Kaitlin never have to suffer at the hands of another, her story is all too common. One in six abused women report that their partner first became abusive during pregnancy. According to the Center for Disease Control, at least four to eight percent of pregnant women — over 300,00 per year — report suffering domestic abuse during pregnancy.
If you’ve supported us in the past, your gift has helped people like Kaitlin find a better life for herself and her children. And although he is only a month old, the prospects for Kaitlin’s son Joshua are far better in a life without violence where he will be nurtured and gently cared for.
This was not the first baby born in shelter, and sadly, will certainly not be the last. But with the generous help of individuals and organizations in our community, we can offer them a safer future where they are able to realize their full potential without the long-lasting consequences of domestic abuse.
These unsettling statistics are only counteracted by the fact that so many concerned members of our community daily step forward to help put them on their journey to safety and self-sufficiency.
As we near year-end, we hope that you will take this opportunity to make a gift to Family Shelter Service to help women like Kaitlin — isolated and fearful — but able to find the tools and resources she needs to build a safer future for her family through our shelter and counseling services. Your donation directly impacts the lives of so many in our community with nowhere else to turn. And you can be confident in knowing that your dollars are used locally to help women and children in almost unimaginable circumstances find safety and just as importantly, hope.
We are fortunate to have a dollar-for-dollar match this year for all new and increased donations. Please click here to make your tax-deductible gift to Family Shelter so that others like Kaitlin can start their healing journey in a safe and caring environment.