“Gradually, I got to feel like this is my family, this is where I belong, and I don’t want to live anywhere else. I want to stay here forever,” said Mary.

Finding New Hope

Upon meeting Mary, you find a warm and welcoming soul. Her big smile shines bright and her kind eyes instantly make you feel comfortable. It’s hard to imagine that just a few years ago, Mary lived day-to-day in paralyzing fear for her life.

Looking back, Mary can see a pattern of being drawn toward abusive relationships. Her own father had been abusive to her. In her last marriage, the abuse wasn’t initially apparent to Mary, it seemed to build slowly over time. In fact, it was hard to see at all until she suffered a stroke and was forced to involuntarily resign from her beloved career in insurance.

That was a turning point for Mary in both her marriage and her life.

After the stroke, Mary’s husband became increasingly manipulative and tried gaining control of all aspects of her life. He constantly taunted her with physical threats and diminished her self-esteem with harsh name-calling. He took control of her finances, leaving Mary feeling frightened and powerless. She often trembled in fear and worried her husband would follow through on his threats. The last straw for Mary was when her husband uttered the words, “I will kill you.” She believed him and knew it was time to leave.

When Mary left her husband, she left her entire life behind and entered an unknown world of existence. Over the next year and a half, Mary leaned hard on a variety of resources that helped keep her safe as she learned about the cycle of abuse and started to rebuild her life. She first moved into a women’s shelter, then into transitional housing, and later a small apartment complex.

Finally, she received a call that would change her life forever.

Mary had been on a waiting list for a Mercy Housing home in a nearby town. When they called to say there was an apartment available, she jumped at the chance to see it. By the time she could coordinate transportation, however, that apartment was gone. She couldn’t take another chance at missing an apartment and took the next place that was offered, though she hadn’t seen it.

“The apartment was beautiful to me. High ceilings, light and an actual kitchen with full-sized appliances. The bathroom was huge,” said Mary.

Mary was elated to find an affordable place to call home and Mercy Housing became a pillar of stability and support for her. Although she was still afraid for her safety, being in a supportive environment allowed her to reconnect with her true self again. Immediately, Mary began receiving invitations to attend social gatherings scheduled at this Mercy Housing community. Word soon got out about her artistic ability too, and the Mercy Housing staff wasted no time inviting her to share those talents.

Mary was asked to create a poster for an upcoming festival being held onsite and she gladly accepted the challenge. It helped Mary recognize she had something to contribute and she was happy to help.

“That was really the start of me feeling like, ok, I am a part of this community and I have something to give,” said Mary.

Her ex-husband always said she was worthless and over time, Mary had started to believe him. As time passed at Mercy Housing, she felt better and better about herself and started to believe in herself again.

“Gradually, I got to feel like this is my family, this is where I belong, and I don’t want to live anywhere else. I want to stay here forever,” said Mary.

In June 2018, Mary’s resilience was tested again when she was diagnosed with cancer. The future didn’t seem as bright anymore after experiencing some medical complications following her diagnosis. In the process, however, she gained a friend for life.

The Resident Services Coordinator at her property was also dealing with a major health issue and was undergoing chemotherapy. As they managed through excruciating days of treatment together, they gained a true friendship in the process. That friendship would be a cornerstone in their recovery and would continue long into Mary’s remission.

“I don’t know what I would have done if I had not been able to come here,” said Mary.

Thankfully, she doesn’t need an answer because her life is now full. Mary is excited about the future and plans on continuing to contribute to the Mercy Housing community she calls home. She has joined the Advisory Committee this year and is ready for any new challenges ahead.

“When I’m here, I feel at peace and I feel like I do have a tomorrow,” said Mary. “This was my answer.”