A love letter to the women of the refuge

This is a love letter to some of the strongest and most inspiring women I know.

I had cause to use a women’s refuge some years ago and the women I met there were extraordinary. From the support workers that assess the needs of incomers to the counsellors who guide us through those darkest of times and on to the group leaders who encourage us by example to be stronger, wiser women, I have yet to meet a group of people so dedicated to service.

To the resource worker who cried with me as I told somebody for the first time what had happened to me, your belief and understanding and utter lack of judgement were the small spark of strength I needed to break open the floodgates and let it all out. That was the first step of my healing, although I didn’t know it at the time.

To the counsellor who talked me through the darkest time of my life with gentleness and insight, you altered me profoundly on every level. I am the woman I am today because you opened my mind to what was and what is and, most importantly of all, what could be. You showed me that my power is mine alone and that all I had to do was take it.

To the leaders of our group sessions on the Freedom Programme, your humbleness and quiet strength are simply awe inspiring. Your willingness to share your experiences with us was staggering. Without your encouragement and leading by example, there are secrets I would have taken to the grave festering like an open sore in my soul. With your support, we exposed them to the light and they’ll never stop hurting but I can see them for the scar tissue that they are. You defied us to pity you and we did not. And in so learning, we refused to accept pity for ourselves and that is a strength all on its own.

I was not alone in those group sessions. To the other women, all at different stages of their journey, I hope I gave you at least half as much strength and awareness as you gave me. It is a sisterhood, damaged and defiant, ever evolving and sometimes stumbling but ever ready to pick ourselves up and try again.

It has been years and years, and there is still not a day that goes by that I don’t think of you with gratitude and love and wonder how you are all doing, especially now that I have found love again. Words simply cannot encompass all that you meant and mean to me but you are in my head and heart with love and support and will remain there all my days.

In humble and loving gratitude,

Rivka

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