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Survivor Spotlight: Dunia’s Story

Post Series: Survivor Spotlight

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Dunia thought she had it all – a family she loved, a warm and cozy house, and a doting husband. And, for the first years of her relationship with her husband, this was true. Then, something changed after they got married, and the abuse began. In the beginning, she said, it was mainly verbal arguments and emotional abuse, but soon, escalated to physical violence. When her husband pushed her against a wall and tried to choke her while she was in the third trimester of her first pregnancy, Dunia began to see how deep-rooted the violence was.

After 7 years of being kicked, punched, spit on, and verbally abused, Dunia had had enough, and she made one call that would change her life.

Dunia was first referred by the Rhode Island Department of Human Services to the Women’s Resource Center. There, she requested a Child Support Waiver to help support her children. The Advocate met Dunia when she was five months pregnant and visibly fearful of her abuser, despite having escaped. Due to her cultural beliefs,  she’d never told anyone in her family about what she was going through, especially her parents, and never dared to call the police.

Once Dunia reached out to an Advocate within the Women’s Resource Center and shared that she finally got the courage to call the police, she felt she was finally able to overcome her abuser. In light of her recent success, Dunia felt it was possible to let her parents in on the secret she had kept all these years. Once Dunia shared with her parents what had been going on, she realized that her parents would always support her unconditionally, as they asked that she and two children move to live with them.

By the time of the second reassessment, Dunia disclosed that she was feeling more empowered and independent, and stronger and with a better self-esteem. These feelings allowed her to go back to school, while still working full time. She acknowledged the tremendous support she was getting from her parents and the assistance from the Family Violence Option Advocacy Program (FVOAP) and expressed her gratitude. However strong she felt, Dunia was conscious that she was not yet ready to face her abuser, and asked for a continuation of the child support waiver.

When our Advocate met with her once again six months later, Dunia joyfully talked about her good grades at school, that her kids were doing great, and her parents were enjoying their time with their grandchildren while supporting her one hundred percent.

Dunia was ecstatic to be free her abuser for good when her husband eventually filed for divorce. She truly feels she is capable to live without him and provide for her children with a healthy and safe environment to grow up in.