When you can’t go home for the holidays

At Doorways, we know that healing is not linear. Claire’s story shows how progress and healing sometimes looks like one step forward or back. Our goal is to meet survivors where they are on their own journeys and help them move toward their goals. Learn more.

Claire, a young woman in her mid-twenties, was living with her mom when it her parents discovered that she was in a relationship with another woman. Claire’s parents felt that her sexual orientation conflicted with their religious beliefs. As a result, Claire’s mother made her leave the house.

At first, Claire moved in with her partner. They celebrated their newfound ability to be more open about their relationship. Soon, however, a new dynamic came to light. Claire and her partner started fighting. Before long, the fights became violent. After one particularly violent incident during which Claire’s girlfriend threw a glass at her—requiring stitches—Claire did not feel safe returning to their shared apartment. Claire also knew that she could not return to her family’s home. With nowhere to go, Claire slept in her car.

Then Claire remembered Doorways. She knew that Doorways offered domestic violence services and decided to call the hotline. After speaking with Claire about her situation, Doorways welcomed Claire to the Domestic Violence Safehouse.

At first, Claire’s main goals focused on survival—she needed a place to sleep that was not her car, and she needed to be safe from violence. Once her immediate needs were met, as Claire settled into the Safehouse, she began to explore the additional support available to her and look toward longer-term goals. Claire decided to go to Revive, Doorways Domestic & Sexual Violence Counseling Program, to seek help with her depression surrounding the abusive relationship. She also wanted to locate permanent housing and requested help in navigating financial benefits for which she might be eligible.

Throughout her stay at the Safehouse, Claire partnered with the Doorways team, connected with other survivors living in the shelter, and actively engaged in shelter activities. Claire was thriving.

As the holiday season approached, however, Claire began experiencing feelings of depression over not being able to connect with her family. She started to isolate herself. She lost interest in the services and activities she has been so engaged in before. She felt stuck.

In partnership with her Revive therapist, Claire was eventually able to process these feelings. Talking about and identifying the depression was helpful. Claire later reflected on how helpful that was for her—Revive stayed steady alongside her, helping her through this stuck point.

Claire started to become more active in the program again. Soon, she moved from the Safehouse into Doorways’ HomeStart Supportive Housing Program. She looks forward to working with Doorways’ Housing Locator to find housing of her own where she can continue her healing journey.

Doorways is committed to creating an environment that provides culturally competent and inclusive services that are non-stigmatizing to all clients regardless of race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, sex, gender and gender identity or expression, religion, national origin, age, or disability, as well as to others from diverse backgrounds. Learn more.

If you or someone you know is experiencing abuse in our community, call Arlington’s 24-hour Domestic & Sexual Violence Hotline 703-237-0881 for information and support. You can also contact Virginia’s LGBTQ Partner Abuse and Sexual Assault Helpline: 866-356-6998  / Text: 804-793-9999  / Chat (confidential instant messaging).

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