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In May, with no support from her family to turn to, Carol* and her two year old son came to the YWCA to escape verbal and physical violence from her husband. "My son is my pride and joy, my light in the darkness," she said. When she began seeing the affects her husband's abuse had on the two and a half year old she knew it was time to get out. Carol calls YWCA a "sanctuary" where she can feel safe and work towards her goals.

And her son is thriving. "The difference has been night and day," she said. In just the first week of living in transitional housing he began talking more and being more independent "he started walking up and down stairs without help and pulling a chair up to the sink to brush his teeth on his own. He never did that at home." She said she does her best to make their room in transitional housing feel like home by decorating it with pictures and keeping a few movies and toys that he loves. And of course Doritos, which he goes crazy for. "It's not about the space, it's about the love in it," she says.

As for Carol, she's enjoying the classes provided at YWCA-especially Life Care. When she's not in classes she's out looking for a job. Her goal is to save money to rent an apartment and start a new life with her son. She says none of this would be possible without support from counselors, advocates and other clients at YWCA. "I realized since I've been here that the abuse has been going on way before I met my husband-starting with my parents. I didn't realize that until I came here and started talking about it and listening to others. The DV support classes have helped out immensely to come face to face with the reality that most of us want to ignore."

She gets a lot out of listening and talking with the other clients, "And I hope I pay it forward. Even though my situation is tough I try to help everyone out by staying as positive as possible." In fact, her ultimate goal is to give back to YWCA. Carol has dreams of starting a charity to provide vehicles to women at shelters like YWCA because she knows firsthand that transportation and the lack thereof is such a point of stress for women in crisis.

But for now she's taking it one step at a time, taking care of her son and herself and they get back on their feet again, with the help of YWCA. "If it wasn't for the YW I don't know where we would be. We would probably be living in our car."

*name changed to protect the client's privacy