When O’s husband left, she was baffled as to what to do next. She came to Hope for legal resources. “I didn’t know what direction to go, or what steps to take. I was devastated. At the same time, I was relieved. You name it, I’d put up with it throughout my marriage, but divorce left me with so much to figure out. ” 


O started meeting with a mentor and taking abuse prevention classes. Talking through her past and learning about abuse cycles, she made a discovery: “I didn’t know love outside the context of abusive behavior. Abuse was part of my childhood, so abuse became part of my relationships. As a teenager, I had a few violent boyfriends and others with jealousy issues. I saw these behaviors as protective, even though they didn’t make me feel safe.”


O began piecing together a new understanding of her strengths and wants. She got a job and started a side business, giving her the confidence she had lacked. “Being financially stable, I know I can make it alone. Now I can take care of myself and wait for a healthy relationship instead of rushing.”


February is Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month, a topic very near to our hearts. When a teen girl or woman is educated in recognizing abusive patterns and behaviors, when she understands her worth and is equipped to advocate for herself, she’s much more likely to be in a healthy relationship where she is cared for and respected. Those are the relationships we love to see. 


You know what else we love to see? Women encouraging and educating each other so that healthy cycles repeat. O says she’s become an advocate for healthy relationships. “I talk to friends and complete strangers about recognizing manipulation and abuse because I want them to know they can expect more than that in their relationships.”


When hope runs deep, transformation runs deep and extends wide, affecting positive change for generations to come.