January 5, 2016 BFL News, Current Events, Domestic Violence and Disabilities, Our Stories, Shelter Tags: , 0 Comments

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The day Olga found safe haven at Barrier Free Living’s Freedom House Domestic Violence Shelter for herself and her three children is a moment she will forever cherish.

That moment, however, was only the beginning of a journey that would take several twists over the next several years.

“My abuser beat me up very bad on the street. The police came and took him to jail. That was in 2012,” says Olga who is legally blind. “I went to Freedom House that year and that was the best thing I ever did.”

By 2014 Olga had rebuilt her life piece by piece, and her family had moved into their own home. That was also the year her abuser was released from prison.

“He followed us and one day he stabbed me in the chest and tried to kill me,” says Olga.

Her abuser again landed in jail, but Olga was left with a strong desire to not only find safe haven for her family, but also an opportunity to strengthen her commitment to an empowered life.

“I had a call from Paul (Feuerstein, President/CEO of BFL) and Cynthia (Amodeo, Director of Social Services, Freedom House) and they told me about the agency’s new Barrier Free Living apartments. They had a place for me and my family. I was so excited,” says Olga.

Barrier Free Living Apartments opened the summer of 2015, and Olga and her family are one of the families residing there living as tenants and receiving such support services as counseling and occupational therapy.

BFL Apartments offer fifty family units for families with a disabled head of household who is a victim/survivor of domestic violence and seventy studio apartments for disabled victims/survivors of domestic violence, people with disabilities who are being diverted from possible nursing home placement and veterans with disabilities.

“My family feels safe. We are learning to be strong and to love ourselves. I am so glad we are here,” says Olga, who plans to enroll in a computer class and pursue job related courses.

“I would also like to work with people with a disability and people who have been through things like I went through,” says Olga. “I want to send a strong message to people like me. So they can feel what I feel now. That is my goal. To help others.”


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