Friday Success Story: Breaking free of domestic violence

For years, “Mary” suffered emotional and physical abuse at the hands of her husband. With an untreated mental health disorder, he was frequently intimidating and sometimes violent. Escaping domestic violence can be incredibly difficult and Mary faced more barriers than most. As an elderly woman, she had chronic health issues and mobility difficulties that made it seemingly impossible to leave.

Just over a year ago, one of her husband’s outbursts was so violent that a neighbor heard and called the police. As a result of that incident, the court put a  no contact order in place and the prosecutor referred Mary to the Breaking Free program at United Way supported Families First where counselors and advocates work to empower individuals to break free from abusive relationships. 

Advocates worked with Mary to identify a number of unmet needs that had to be addressed before she could escape the life of violence and intimidation in which she had been trapped. They provided transportation for Mary to get to court and guided her through the process of obtaining a protective order. The judge allowed Mary’s husband to return to the home to move  his things. Mary was very concerned for her safety during this time, so an advocate stayed with her at the house while he was there.

Because of her health and mobility limitations, Mary had difficulty living independently. Families First helped her find new housing at an assisted living facility. Several months after she moved, Families First received a call from the prosecutor’s office. They were planning to close the protective order because they could not reach Mary. The Families First advocate was able to contact her, and as a result, keep the protective order in place.

Today, Mary’s husband is a convicted felon and Mary is free from abuse and living in a facility that can provide the assistance and care she needs. Mary faced so many obstacles, and would likely not have been able to escape were it not for Families First and this United Way funded program.    


Note: United Way brings together compassionate people who are committed to improving lives in our community. We help Central Indiana residents achieve and maintain self-sufficiency by directing resources toward four key areas of community impact – Education, Income, Health and Basic Needs. Families First is one of over 90 United Way funded agencies whose programs address one or more of these priorities.

Since 1923, UWCI has invested nearly $48 million in support of Families First’s efforts to create a healthier community by strengthening families and individuals during life’s challenges and changes. The agency’s current United Way allocation is $1,050,340.