Finding the Courage to Face the Fear

Kansas City is a long way from Wichita, Kan., which is why Anna came here after fleeing for her life.

Newhouse domestic violence shelter came up in a search for help on her cell phone, so Anna called the hotline and planned her escape. A bed was coming available and would be held for her, if she could make it to the shelter in three days. She secretly sold her car, boarded a bus carrying little and stepped off into a completely unfamiliar world. She made it to the police station as directed. Worried the bed hold deadline was approaching and she would have nowhere to go, she kept calling Newhouse to tell them she was on her way. She finally made it there safely that night.

Anna’s life had become one of anxiety, fear and isolation. She was terrified to leave the house because she might encounter her husband, and he would follow through on threats he never stopped making. In her late 50s with grown children and grandchildren in Wichita, Anna finally understood her life could not continue as it had been. So, she fled—telling no one. Her family would not know her whereabouts for four months, but she trusted no one to withstand her husband’s pressure and his relentless pursuit to find her.

Safe at Newhouse, with basic needs met, Anna began to be less anxious and fearful. She read about the programs, resources and house rules, determined to do what she was supposed to do. She went to classes, did chores and talked to other women. As she listened to them, she realized she was not alone, and they, too, had fled horrific situations.

But Anna said it was her sessions with her therapist that saved her. There was so much darkness in her life, Anna worried she would drag her therapist down. Together they became strong enough to pull Anna away from her past and build in her the strength to live a new life, including filing for divorce.

In Wichita, although she only lived across the railroad tracks from a Walmart, she rarely went and always hurried, looking over her shoulder expecting to see her husband coming after her. The realization of how far she had come occurred while she was running errands with other Newhouse residents. Standing in the middle of CVS, Anna suddenly realized she was no longer afraid, and that she, too, could be a normal woman out shopping.

Anna’s story is descriptive of many women in the communities of Missouri and Kansas: they fear the abuser, yet fear the unknown as well. When Anna had the courage to flee, she found Newhouse staff and therapists ready to support her journey through recovery to hope and self-worth.

Health Care Foundation of Greater Kansas City’s grant award to Newhouse helped sustain therapists serving Anna and hundreds like her. Results demonstrate the program’s therapeutic success: 90 percent of the women and children increase social and emotional interaction/skills, and 90 percent of the women demonstrate increased hopefulness.


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HCF's Local Health Buzz Blog aims to discuss health and health policy issues that impact the uninsured and underserved in our service area. To submit a blog, please contact HCF Communications Officers, Jennifer Sykes, at jsykes@hcfgkc.org.

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