Her husband was back. It was the middle of the night, and Sara* felt her heart begin pounding with anxiety. As he tore her out of bed, she thought about the blanket she hid outside. No phone, no one else awake, just darkness. Once he locked that door, there was nothing she could do.
Nights outside were not uncommon for Sara, but it wasn’t always like this. At first, he didn’t abuse her. It started slowly, and somehow, it became…normal.
She did the logical thing and got a divorce. Then, she learned the truth that so many domestic victims endure. He wouldn’t go away.
She had only just received the keys to her new place when she was visited by Children & Youth Services. Her ex-husband claimed she was abusing their child.
The harassment didn't stop. Two ex-convicts invaded her home. They were after her son. Can you guess who hired them? “We’re never going to be free,” she realized. “This is what it’s going to be like for the rest of my life.”
Desperate, she looked for a solution and was connected with The Watchful Shepherd USA, a nonprofit organization providing electronic alarm systems to victims of abuse.
Sara knew this service could help not only her, but also her son. “We got Watchful Shepherd installed in our home,” she said, “and you could immediately tell my son and I were able to take a big, deep breath. We felt safer at home, but eventually that begins to wear on you when you can’t leave your house and feel safe.”
And then, a game changer. Watchful Shepherd called her about a new discreet device that she could use in or out of her home. With the simple click of a button, the mobile emergency alarm alerts designated contacts and even 9-1-1, with an S.O.S. message and her GPS location.
“It’s given us our life back in so many ways,” said Sara. “I truly mean that. We weren’t able to go to the store, do anything fun. Even going to the doctor was a huge risk. It gave us the ability to do all those things.”
Because of the substantial danger her son faces leaving the house, he’s been enrolled in online school. Every time they think it’s finally safe to go back to school, his abusive father threatens him again.
Like the time they tried going to the park. Before they knew it, Sara was telling her son to run away as fast as he could. His dad had tracked them down in their new town and nearly ran them over in an ambush. Unbeknownst to their abuser, police were on the way thanks to her new device.
“Knowing we have the device gives us the freedom to live because it’s a huge risk coming face to face with him,” said Sara. “I’m not going to be able to take my cell phone out and call for help. It’s not an option.”
The little device has made a huge impact. It’s a new sense of hope for her and her son to live again. They're hoping he’ll even go back to school soon.
She urges, “Getting out isn’t easy, but it’s not impossible. People need to be proactive about plans for their safety, for their kid’s safety. It’s amazing that a program like Watchful Shepherd is completely prepared to help someone in that situation. They can give a family their peace back, their life back.”
If you are interested in providing peace for domestic violence survivors like Sara, visit www.watchful.org for device funding opportunities.
*Name changed to protect client confidentiality