Scared, lonely, and nervous for her safety, Julie (not her real name) walked through the doors at Daystar, Inc. Transitional Home. She was frightened about coming to a new city and not knowing many people.
While she would recover from the physical abuse, the hidden scars from emotional abuse are things that may never heal completely.
Julie, brave and when she was ready, got help to escape her tormentor. Daystar welcomed her to their haven, where she could rest and begin the healing process from years of abuse.
“I felt relieved. I was finally going to have the time I needed to find a job, regain some sense of myself, get back on my feet and not have to find myself in a situation with an abusive partner again,” she said. “The first week I was there, I was scared, but everyone seemed very caring and friendly. They gave me the sense, that the first week I was here, I felt as though this could be a very positive thing for me.”
Daystar, Inc. was founded in 1986 by Sr. Irene Kay whose order, the Sisters of Mercy, was once at the center of health, education and social justice ministries in the region. The safe and caring long-term transitional home provides services for approximately 50 women per year between the ages of 30 and 65, with the support, tools and resources to build a life from domestic abuse. At Daystar, a woman can live without fear for up to two years while they heal from abuse, overcome obstacles to independence and build healthy support systems in the community.
According to Nancy Major, President and CEO of Daystar, the 10-bed facility serves women through its housing program, as well as offer workshops, classes and support for others not residing at the facility.
“We provide housing support for up to two years, provide ongoing case management/counseling, food, life-skills training, self-confidence, emotional support, employment and job-search assistance, linkage to other community services, identifying and building a healthy support network, establishing long-term stable and safe housing, after-care services,” said Major.
Often feeling dejected and hopeless, Major said ongoing counseling and one-on-one sessions and support groups help the women feel confident, as well as help to break the cycle of abuse.
“Also, employment and building self-confidence through the experience of achieving small goals to help build a pattern and the memory of success helps,” she said. “Our goals are to prevent the unhealthy relationship patterns and through our intensive program, we aim for 85 percent success. We focus on how women can build new patterns by healing damaged self-confidence and teaching them that they have worth and value. This is a life-long process and Daystar is a start on that journey.”
Because the small communal living facility was not conducive for women with children, Daystar was unable to provide services for them.
“However, we’re extremely excited to share that we’re embarking on a new expansion of Daystar that will include women with children as we relocate to a new apartment facility,” said Major. “This move is earmarked for later this year, along with new programs to effectively serve women with or without children. With our new facility, we will be able to serve up to 36 women and children through our housing program.”
Additionally, the new after-care program is geared to continue services to women who have moved to independent living after Daystar.
One of the more difficult aspects that Daystar’s one full-time and 4 part-time employees face is weeding through the underlying lack of self-worth and self-confidence damage which can provide a barrier to healing. Rising from feeling as if they must remain victims, the women, many who suffer from PTSD, attend specialized counseling to help them learn new coping skills and identify triggers.
“The goal of Daystar is to help women overcome whatever barriers they might have to establishing a healthy, stable and violence-free future,” said Major.
Most women arrive at Daystar through a referral from temporary crisis-centers like Sojourner Family Peace Center, Cathedral Center and others through word-of-mouth. For those who might be living in an abusive situation or may have a friend or relative suffering from abuse, Major encourages them to reach out to Daystar or one of their partner agencies, such as Sojourner, to develop an immediate safety plan and get help to leave the abusive situation.
“If there is immediate danger or violence, call 911,” said Major. “No one should have to suffer in silence. There is help.”
After eight months of living in Daystar’s Transitional Living facility, Julie found help, escaped the abuse and learned more about herself and the other women living there.
“I have accomplished more being here at Daystar than I have in the past seven years of my life. I am not done. I can honestly now say that I am proud of myself and where I am in life right now. Living at Daystar will allow me to grow as a woman,” she said. “I can say that here at Daystar, whatever you may go through in your life, whatever you may have been through in your life, there are people here that do care and that will try and help you get the help you need so that when you do leave Daystar, you leave all that old baggage behind.”
To learn more, contact Nancy Major, President/CEO, at NMajor@daystarinc.org or by phone at 414-385-0334 or Jeff Korpal, Board Chairman, at JeffKorpal@aol.com or 414-406-2097.